Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has commended how Zinedine Zidane conducted himself in a post-match interview following Real Madrid's 1-0 loss to rivals Atletico.
Los Blancos' manager claimed his side's La Liga title bid was over after falling 12 points behind league-leaders Barca on Saturday.
Abidal, however, insists Zidane's intentions were to ease the pressure on his squad.
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He said on BeIn Sports, according to FourFourTwo: "Zidane said the league is finished to remove the pressure on his players. His speech in the press room after the derby was good for the squad."
The former France international believes the source of Real's current woes is trying to compete with rivals and reigning champions, Barcelona.
"The problem, more than the defeat, is the difference in points Real Madrid has with Barcelona.
"Zidane is a winner, he wants to win and it's something he wants to teach the players. Inside, it hurts him the players were not well in the derby.
"The attitude of the players on the pitch hurts him. If a victory comes quickly, everything is forgotten and life goes on."
Following the disappointing performance at the Bernabeu, Cristiano Ronaldo criticised his teammates by claiming: "If we were all at my level, maybe we would be leaders.
"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win. I like to play with Karim, with Bale, with Marcelo."
The Portuguese was slammed for his comments and has since apologised, with Abidal somewhat defending his scathing assessment: "Sometimes you say things you do not think to the press after a game."
The ex-Barcelona defender, however, insists the La Liga giants should be able to cope with injuries.
"Is it the first time that major players are injured? No. And other times they pulled out good results."
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