Zinedine Zidane has played down reports of a falling out with playmaker James Rodriguez after the Colombian reacted to being substituted by punching the Real Madrid dug-out.
James was clearly annoyed to have seen his number called when he was taken off for Isco with 18 minutes remaining of Real’s 4-2 La Liga victory at Leganes on Wednesday evening.
The Colombia international had enjoyed a productive match when he scored the opener, created Alvaro Morata’s third of his hat-trick and created a total of four chances during the game.
However, despite team-mate Marcelo attempting to calm him down, James couldn’t contain his anger at his failure to complete the game, walking straight past his coach before punching the dug-out in frustration.
Speaking about the incident, Zidane insisted it was a ‘normal reaction’ from his player.
“I have not spoken with him – it is normal that a player wants to play the full 90 minutes,” Zidane said.
“These are things that happen and that is it. I don’t have anything against James, quite the opposite.
“It is true that he isn’t on the pitch as much, but he is offensive and works hard.
“It happens with Karim [Benzema] too. I am happy with him and it is normal that he is annoyed to be substituted.
“He played well and I am pleased with that. I do things for the good of the team, I understand his annoyance but he is going to keep being important.”
The substitution meant James has still only completed the full 90 minutes in two league matches this season.
Real made a total of nine changes for the clash with Marco Asensio another player coming in and impressing his manager by creating the opener for Rodriguez.
“Asensio had a great game, we all know about his quality,” Zidane added.
“All of the players have it tough. We need everyone. You talk about substitutes and starting players, but we are all in the same boat together.
“It is clear that I am happy, but it is because I have a great squad.”