‘I don’t know if it’s the last game for them or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Keylor played well but we’ll see what happens next season.’
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane this evening opened up on his decision not to hand Gareth Bale any playing time during his side’s final outing of the season. However, one particular quote attributed to the Frenchman has since been firmly denied.
Real 0-2 Betis
Los Blancos welcomed Real Betis to the Bernabeu a short time ago, for a La Liga clash.
The capital giants, who headed into proceedings having picked up just a solitary win from their last 4 league outings, were aware ahead of kick-off that they had nothing to play for, having sat 8 points adrift of city-rivals Atletico in 2nd.
And Real’s subsequent showing over the 90 minutes this afternoon certainly painted the picture of a side with their collective focus firmly set on a summer break.
When all was said and done in Madrid, Betis emerged with a deserved 2-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Loren Moron and former Blancos’ attacker Jese Rodriguez.
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Jese scores against his former club, Real Madrid, in an excellent move from Real Betis
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) May 19, 2019
As such, an altogether abysmal season on the part of the soon-to-be dethroned European champions came to a fitting close.
Both players, in particular Bale, have been heavily-linked with summer exits from the Bernabeu.
As such, it was predicted that both would see some form of playing time this afternoon, in a farewell appearance of sorts.
But, while Navas started and played out the full 90 minutes, Bale was confined to the bench for the entirety of proceedings.
‘Must act in the best interests of the team at all times’
As such, despite having played an integral role in Real’s Champions League and Copa Del Rey triumphs in years past, the Welshman now looks likely to depart the Spanish powerhouse without any form of sendoff.
Blancos’ boss Zinedine Zidane was therefore inevitably questioned on his decision to leave Bale out altogether during his post-match press conference this evening, with the French tactician having explained:
On whether Bale deserved a chance to make one final appearance, Zidane continued:
‘I’m sorry he didn’t get to play, but no-one knows what will happen.’
‘If I think a player doesn’t fit in the team I have to do what I think works best. No-one can change what Bale has done for the team. But as a coach I have to live in the present.’
‘I have counted on other players in more in recent weeks.
‘I make these decisions when it is right to do so. And I must act in the best interests of the team at all times.’
Quotes via the Telegraph
Crucially, however, one quote attributed to the Real boss by media outlets around Europe has this evening been firmly denied.
Zidane was widely-reported to have sniped:
‘If I had a fourth substitute, I would not have brought him on.’
As per Ben Hayward of the Evening Standard, though, the former Merengues’ midfielder said no such thing:
I was at Zidane’s press conference earlier after Real Madrid’s game against Betis. He did not say anything remotely close to “if I had a fourth sub, I would not have brought him [Bale] on”. Yet everyone reports it, nobody checks. Fake news spreads fast.
— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) May 19, 2019