Cristiano Ronaldo has not been included in Real Madrid’s squad for their round-of-16 tie in the Copa del Rey against Sevilla on Wednesday.
Ronaldo, 31, last featured for Real when the club clinched Club World Cup glory with a 4-2 win over Kashima Antlers, with the Portugal captain scoring a hat trick.
The forward will not, however, be in action when Real host Sevilla this week, with Los Blancos next in action against Granada in La Liga on Saturday.
Looking ahead to the game against in-form Sevilla, whose coach Jorge Sampaoli wants to “control the game” at the Bernabeu, Zidane said he expected a difficult challenge.
“They are a very good team, very competitive, very confident,” he said. “It will be a difficult game for us. I hope for them too. We are mostly focused on ourselves. We must prepare for the game, work hard, and we just want the game to begin now.”
Zidane responded with a smile when asked whether he felt different now than 12 months ago, when he was presented as Madrid first-team coach following Rafa Benitez’s turbulent six months in charge.
“I am a bit less stressed now,” he laughed. “There are always nerves, but less now. The best moment was winning the Champions League. That does not happen very often. The worst I don’t know, there was nothing I can think of now.”
Despite claiming the Champions League in his first season in charge, and being nominated for a 2016 The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award, Zidane said he did not expect recognition at next Monday’s ceremony.
“It would be normal that someone else wins,” he said. “I have just begun, this is all new for me. I have to keep working, keep improving.”
Madrid star Ronaldo would add the FIFA award to the 2016 Ballon d’Or, Zidane predicted.
“I would be surprised if Cristiano did not win,” he said. “He deserves it all, clearly, what he did in 2016 was unique.”