Real Ratings: Bale, Kroos both 8/10 as Madrid make statement
With €100 million attacker Eden Hazard injured, none of Madrid's summer signings started the game, but Bale was recalled in attack and his vigorous showing included a superb assist for Benzema's opener.
The Los Blancos coach told the postgame news conference at Balaidos that he had spoken to Bale this week, and a player who almost left for China on a free transfer was now just thinking about the new campaign with Madrid.
"We spoke before the game, two or three times, to say he was staying," Zidane said. "Gareth's game, like all of them, was very good. He is just thinking of the new season, and playing."
Zidane was asked what had changed in Bale's work since July, when the coach had suggested it would be best if the Welshman left the club as soon as possible.
"Nothing has changed, we are all now just thinking about the season," he said. "Gareth, James, all the players, just want to do the best possible to defend this shirt."
James was an unused substitute for the game at Balaidos, despite Zidane not giving the Colombia international at all in preseason. The Frenchman declined to say how a muscle injury picked up by Hazard in training on Friday had changed his plans for the La Liga opener.
"Eden's injury was bad luck for us," Zidane said. "I'd have liked to have him, but we didn't. So we put in another player. Vinicius Junior and Gareth started up front with Karim, and they all played well. Today was a very complete game. In preseason we just played in snatches, today we were good all game.
"The defensive work of Gareth and Vini was important, especially with 10 men. Defending well was key, as with the ball we know we can do damage to any team."
As Spain's transfer window remains open until Sept. 2, Madrid are still being linked with midfield replacements, with Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Ajax's Donny van de Beek both potential targets.
Asked if Modric being suspended for next Saturday's La Liga game at home to Valladolid makes it clear the team needs an extra midfielder, Zidane thought for a moment before answering.
"We are here with the same again," he said with a smile. "We will make do for the next game with the players we have."