Zidane: I’ll be with the players to the death

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Zinedine Zidane has backed his Real Madrid team to deliver in El Clasico on Saturday and said he’s “with the players to the death” amid mounting speculation about his future at the club.

Zidane, who won the Champions League in three successive seasons with Madrid between 2016 and 2018 as well as winning La Liga last season, insisted he feels supported by the club and president Florentino Perez ahead of the crunch game against Barcelona.

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Madrid were beaten 1-0 by newly promoted Cadiz in La Liga last weekend before a shock 3-2 loss to a weakened Shakhtar Donetsk side in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“Yes [I feel supported], by everyone,” Zidane said at a prematch news conference on Friday. “I have won a lot of things with these players, they have made me win a lot. I’ll be with the players to the death.

“I feel the support of everyone, but now we need to change things. We’ve had two complicated games.

“I think it’s a good game to prove ourselves, to prove that we want to change the situation.”

The back-to-back defeats have prompted speculation that his position could be under threat, despite a managerial track record of regularly winning silverware.

“It’s what people say, I can’t deny that,” he said when asked if the team were playing for his future. “But what changes? Nothing. Last year it was the same, in my first spell it was the same. What I have to do is my job, give 100%, give everything I have.”

Zidane also confirmed that captain Sergio Ramos would be fit to feature against Barca after hurting his knee against Cadiz and watching the disastrous defensive display against Shakhtar from the stands.

“Sergio is our captain and our leader,” he said. “We won’t take any risks at all. Sergio has recovered and he’ll be with us. It’s about being 100% and I think Sergio is now.”

Barcelona go into the match as favourites after bouncing back from a league loss to Getafe with a convincing 5-1 thrashing of Ferencvaros in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Antoine Griezmann was left on the bench for that game, but coach Ronald Koeman said the forward is a candidate to feature against Madrid.

“He has options to play tomorrow,” Koeman said. “He’s an important player and we want everyone at their best. The team is the most important.”

Jordi Alba has also been named in Barcelona’s matchday squad after almost three weeks out through injury.

The Spain international is in contention to start the match, having completed just one full training session with his teammates.