Ancelotti Upbeat By James’s Return To Form For Everton

File photo of Carlo Ancelotti and James Rodriguez

 

Playmaker James’s form could be pivotal if Everton are to secure a place in the Champions League the competition the club’s manager Carlo Ancelotti values above all others.

The 29-year-old Colombian international looked back to his best — injury having interrupted an impressive start to his Everton career — in Sunday’s FA Cup win over Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

Everton are fifth just a point off the Champions League places and with a game in hand on fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Ancelotti approaches Wednesday’s match with third-placed Leicester in a good frame of mind.

His three most potent offensive players James, Brazilian Richarlison and leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin are all fit.

The 61-year-old Italian sees James as the crucial cog due to his ability to create chances.

“He was really good with the ball (against Sheffield Wednesday) and that’s what we are going to ask of him, to be really good and efficient,” said Ancelotti.

“He made a lot of passes and was really good delivering set-pieces.

“The fact that he is back, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin can take advantage.”

Ancelotti is keen to deliver silverware to the success-starved Everton fans, with their trophy the 1996 FA Cup.

Nevertheless the former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach’s ambition is to qualify for the Champions League, which he has won three times as a coach and twice as a player.

“Personally? Yes,” he replied when asked at Tuesday’s press conference did he miss competing in the Champions League.

“I think the Champions League is the best competition in the world and as I said when I arrived here, to bring Everton to games in the Champions League is a fantastic motivation for me.

“I don’t know how long it will take for this but I hope soon we will be able to play games in the Champions League.

“It is a great motivation and a great, great desire.”

Ancelotti will also be boosted by the returns of French defender Lucas Digne and Nigerian international midfielder Alex Iwobi for the Leicester game.

He says the team will know a lot more about whether a Champions League spot is realistic after the next two home games, Leicester and then struggling Newcastle on Saturday.

“These are really important games for us,” said Ancelotti.

“We want to fight for the top four, we want to fight for the top six.

“The fact that we are going to play at home in these next two games means that after Saturday we know where we are going to be in the future.

“I hope it is a nice future.”

-AFP

Ancelotti’s Everton Beat Brighton To Maintain Perfect Start To Season

Everton's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Brighton Hove and Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on October 3, 2020. Jan Kruger / POOL / AFP
Everton’s Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Brighton Hove and Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on October 3, 2020. Jan Kruger / POOL / AFP

 

James Rodriguez guided Everton to the top of the Premier League by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Brighton on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men will now head into the Merseyside derby against Liverpool after the international break with maximum points from their first four games.

The Toffees also have the Premier League’s form striker in their armoury as Dominic Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring by heading home his ninth goal of the season to celebrate his first ever call-up to the England squad.

Jordan Pickford remains England’s number one at the other end, but the Everton goalkeeper’s howler let Brighton back into the game as he dropped Leandro Trossard’s weak effort right at the feet of Neal Maupay, who turned home an equaliser.

The home side quickly responded to retake the lead before half-time as James’s free-kick was headed home by Colombian international teammate Yerry Mina.

The former Real Madrid midfielder then took centre-stage after the break as he swept home Alex Iwobi’s low cross before tapping into an empty net on his weaker right foot 20 minutes from time.

Yves Bissouma pulled a late goal back but it was too little, too late for Graham Potter’s men.

Everton’s victory leaves Manchester City already nine points off the top of the table, but Pep Guardiola will be hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s embarrassing 5-2 home defeat to Leicester against one of his mentors, Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, later on Saturday.

 

AFP

Ancelotti Praises James Rodriguez’s Assist Tempo For Everton

Everton’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti (R) greets Everton’s Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez after the English Premier League football match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Alex Livesey / POOL / AFP)/

 

Carlo Ancelotti claimed on Friday he would score goals playing up front for Everton with James Rodriguez behind him and wants forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to hit at least 20 each this season.

James has made an instant impact since joining from Real Madrid as the Toffees have won their opening two Premier League games of the season for the first time in seven years.

Ancelotti previously worked with the Colombia midfielder in the Spanish capital and at Bayern Munich and while he will not hold his front two to the standards of Cristiano Ronaldo, he believes they must improve on their goal return during his first season in charge.

“I think James Rodriguez is going to help the strikers because he is a fantastic assist man,” said Ancelotti.

“The target for Dominic is I hope he can reach 20 goals because he has the quality and ability, like Richarlison.

“With James at the time in Madrid, Ronaldo scored 56 goals: I am not honestly going to ask Dominic to score 56 goals but he has to try to do his best.”

Calvert-Lewin already has four to his name after scoring his first career hat-trick in a 5-2 win over West Brom last weekend, while Richarlison opened his account for the season with a double in another 5-2 victory over Fleetwood in the League Cup on Wednesday.

“I think if they do not score at least 20 goals each they can have a problem with me,” added Ancelotti.

“I said to them ‘You have to score at least 20 goals each’ and I hope Moise (Kean) also, he has the possibility. He has played two games and scored two goals.

“If I play as a striker and I have behind me James, (Gylfi) Sigurdsson, (Andre) Gomes I can score goals and so they have to.”

At the other end of the field, England number one Jordan Pickford is under the spotlight as he was at fault for both Fleetwood’s goals in midweek.

However, Ancelotti said he is not considering buying a new goalkeeper or dropping Pickford.

“There is a lot of focus on him but, I have to be honest, he started really well and did a fantastic match against Tottenham. I am not really focused on him, like you (the media),” he added.

“He is a great goalkeeper. He has my total confidence

AFP

2014 W/Cup Top Scorer James Rodriguez Joins Everton, Reunites With Ancelotti

James Rodríguez was the top scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. [email protected] Rodríguez.

 

Everton completed the signing of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on Monday, reuniting the Colombian playmaker with manager Carlo Ancelotti for a third time.

The Premier League club are reported to have paid £22 million ($29 million) for the 29-year-old, who was top scorer at the 2014 World Cup.

 

James’s performances on the world stage earned him an 80 million euro ($95 million) move to Madrid six years ago and he shone in his first season in the Spanish capital under Ancelotti’s management.

However, he fell down the pecking order in Zinedine Zidane’s two spells in charge at the Bernabeu and failed to impress in a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich between 2017 and 2019, where he also worked under Ancelotti.

James becomes Everton’s second signing of the transfer window after the arrival of Brazilian international Allan from Napoli and believes the future is bright for the Toffees despite a disappointing 12th place finish in the Premier League last season.

“I’m convinced, with Carlo and his technical staff, we can achieve big things and one of the big reasons (I signed) was the presence of Carlo Ancelotti.

“I have enjoyed some great times with him previously at two different clubs. That was a massive reason to come here.”

Everton have not won a major trophy since 1995, but James said that is his target after signing a two-year deal with the option of a club option for a third.

“I’m a winner, I’m a real winner,” he added. “I can see the plans here, the project here is very serious. Everyone means business.

“I think the seriousness and determination to win trophies can lead to silverware.”

Ancelotti was desperate for midfield reinforcements after a poor end to the season after the Premier League resumed in June.

A fee has reportedly also been agreed with Watford for French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.

“James, as everyone knows, is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” said Ancelotti.

“He’s really excited about the project of the club and the fact we want to improve. He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him – he was already convinced.

“Players like James and Allan can help us to be better and we can help them to be better. This kind of connection can be helpful to improve the results, the team and results of this club.”

Everton begin their Premier League campaign away to Tottenham on Sunday.

 

Real Madrid Confirm James Calf Injury

James Rodriguez Wary Of Real Madrid's Champions League 'Chip'
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

James Rodriguez sustained a calf injury while playing against Real Valladolid on Saturday, Real Madrid have confirmed.

James was included in the starting line-up for Madrid’s 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite missing all their pre-season matches as he was expected to leave the club.

The Colombian played well but was substituted early in the second half by Zinedine Zidane, who said after the game James had been feeling some discomfort.

A Real Madrid statement on Monday read: “After the tests carried out today on our player James Rodriguez by the Real Madrid Medical Services he has been diagnosed with a muscle injury in the right calf. His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Madrid offered no timeframe for James’ return but he is expected to miss their trip to Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday.

After the two-week international break, Madrid face Levante at home before playing their opening fixture of the Champions League group stage on either September 17 or 18.

James Rodriguez To Leave Bayern Munich

Colombia’s players Santiago Arias (L) and James Rodriguez take part in a training session of the national team in Bogota on June 2, 2019, ahead of the Copa America football tournament. PHOTO: Juan BARRETO/AFP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez will leaveBayernMunich ahead of next season after the club decided not to sign him permanently from Real Madrid, Kicker magazine reported on Monday.

Rodriguez, 27, joinedBayernon loan in 2017, and the German club have the option to sign him permanently for 42 million euros ($46.9m) when the two-year deal expires on June 30.

Yet according to Kicker, the recently crowned Bundesliga champions have decided against triggering the option-to-buy in Rodriguez’ contract.

“TheBayernbosses have agreed internally not to sign James,” wrote the magazine on Monday.

Rodriguez has scored 14 goals in 43 Bundesliga games for Bayern but has had a difficult relationship with coach Niko Kovac this season.

The Colombian has also struggled to hold down a first-team place atBayern, amid competition from the likes of Thomas Mueller, Leon Goretzka and Thiago Alcantara.

With a return to Real Madrid considered unlikely, Kicker reported that Rodriguez is on the verge of a move to Serie A club Napoli, where he would be reunited with formerBayernand Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The magazine also claimed thatBayernwere yet to make a decision over the future of 21-year-old Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches, who has repeatedly demanded more game time in recent weeks.

AFP

James Stars As Bayern Maintain Perfect Bundesliga Start

Bayern’s Colombian forward James Rodriguez (R) and Benfica’s Serbian midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group E football match Benfica v FC Bayern Munich in Lisbon on September 19, 2018. Francisco LEONG / AFP

 

James Rodriguez shone for Bayern Munich with a goal, then won a penalty, as the German champions made it four wins from their first four Bundesliga games with a 2-0 victory at Schalke to stay top on Saturday.

Rodriguez struck with just eight minutes gone at Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena, expertly slipping his marker, former Bayern team-mate Sebastian Rudy, to power home a header from Josh Kimmich’s cross.

It was a sublime effort which took the wind out of Schalke’s sails as they ended up suffering a fourth consecutive league defeat while Bayern are the only team in Germany’s top tier with a 100 percent record.

The 27-year-old Colombian superstar, making his first league start this season, should have scored his second when he squandered a golden chance five minutes after the break.

When Bayern’s veteran winger Franck Ribery sliced through Schalke’s defence and squared with goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann beaten, but Rodriguez slumped to the turf, head in hands, after firing wide with the goal at his mercy.

Nevertheless, Rodriguez effectively settled the matter when he won a penalty on 63 minutes after a foul in the area by Alessandro Schoepf.

Bayern’s star striker Robert Lewandowski stepped up, making no mistake and smashed home the resulting spot-kick to make it 2-0.

Schalke had little to offer and only a superb save from Faehrmann denied a long-range free-kick from David Alaba, which curled wickedly 12 minutes from time.

 Ibisevic double 

Earlier, second-placed Hertha Berlin, who host Bayern next Friday, had temporarily claimed top spot as captain Vedad Ibisevic scored twice in a 4-2 home win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

After Gladbach’s Belgium midfielder Thorgan Hazard netted a 29th-minute penalty — his seventh goal in ten games against Hertha — Berlin roared back.

Ibisevic headed his first goal a minute after Hazard had struck, before Austria midfielder Valentino Lazaro scored with another header on 34 minutes to make it 2-1 at the break.

Ibisevic slotted home Berlin’s third goal midway through the second half.

New signing Alassane Plea gave Gladbach hope with 23 minutes to go before Ondrej Duda scored Hertha’s fourth by tapping home a great cross from Dutch winger Javairo Dilrosun.

US international Christian Pulisic again rescued Borussia Dortmund, who had French defender Abdou Diallo sent off 15 minutes from time, with a late goal to equalise in a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.

“After the red card, many thought that it was over, but we came back. We can be happy with the result, we know that,” said Dortmund coach Lucien Favre, whose side are now third.

Hoffenheim took the lead just before the break when their Brazilian forward Joe Linton pounced on a mistake by Dortmund defender Abdou Diallo.

Dortmund were only saved when the video assistant referee spotting a marginal offside, when Ermin Bicakcic headed into the net five minutes after the break, to deny Hoffenheim the second goal.

Diallo dismissal 

Frenchman Diallo capped a bad day at the office when he was sent off on 76 minutes for bringing down Andrej Kramaric, who was through on goal.

Having marked his 20th birthday with the winner at Brugge on Tuesday in the Champions League, Pulisic again rescued Dortmund by equalising six minutes from time, converting a Marco Reus cross.

Elsewhere, Everton misfit Davy Klaassen scored his second goal in as many Bundesliga games in Werder Bremen’s 3-2 win over Augsburg.

The Dutch playmaker, who cost Bremen 14 million euros ($16.3 million) from Everton in July, profited 15 minutes from time after Augsburg goalkeeper let the ball roll through his legs from across and Klaassen tapped home the winner.

Korean midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol and Philipp Max had pulled Augsburg level after Max Kruse and Maximilian Eggestein had put Werder 2-0 with early goals.

An Anton Waldemar own goal and a late second from Toerles Knoell sealed Nuremberg’s 2-0 win at Hanover 96.

Germany striker Nils Petersen scored at the second attempt, heading home a parried the first-half penalty, as Freiburg sealed a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg, who suffered their first loss of the season.

AFP

Bayern Munich Flying But Leverkusen Crash Again

Bayern Munich’s Columbian midfielder James Rodriguez (R) celebrates his goal during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen in Munich, on September 15, 2018. Guenter SCHIFFMANN / AFP

 

Goals from Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez helped Bayern Munich maintain their grip on the top of the table as they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Sunday, plunging their opponents into an early season crisis.

With three defeats in three, Leverkusen have made their worst ever start to a Bundesliga campaign.

Leverkusen got off to a dream start when Thiago’s handball gave them a penalty in the second minute.

Manuel Neuer initially denied Kevin Volland from 12 yards, but the spot-kick was ordered re-taken for players encroaching into the area and Wendell smashed in the retake.

Leverkusen’s joy was short-lived, as Corentin Tolisso prodded in the equaliser just four minutes later, and Robben fired Bayern ahead with a superb volley on 20 minutes.

“It wasn’t easy today, but luckily we bounced back quickly,” Robben told Sky. “I don’t want to criticise my team-mates, but everybody needs to pull their weight when we are pressing.”

Leverkusen’s fate seemed sealed when Karim Bellarabi was sent off for a reckless challenge on Rafinha ten minutes from time, and James Rodriguez added Bayern’s third in the 89th minute.

Champions League debut

Promoted Duesseldorf snatched a surprise 2-1 win over Hoffenheim, who make their Champions League debut next week.

Alfredo Morales headed Duesseldorf ahead against the run of play on the stroke of half-time. English youngster Reiss Nelson, on loan from Arsenal, appeared to save his team’s blushes when he scored on debut to make it 1-1.

The relief did not last long, though, as Dodi Lukebakio restored Duesseldorf’s lead from the penalty spot on 88 minutes.

Germany international Timo Werner scored twice to inspire RB Leipzig to their first win of the season in a 3-2 thriller against Hanover.

On his return to the starting eleven, Yussuf Poulsen nodded Leipzig ahead on ten minutes, before Niclas Fuellkrug blasted in an equaliser for Hanover a few minutes later.

Timo Werner twice linked up with Sweden striker Emil Forsberg on the counter-attack to put RB Leipzig 3-1 ahead, but the visitors were uncowed, and Miiko Albornoz quickly pulled a goal back with a curling shot into the top corner.

There was a flurry of late goals for Wolfsburg and Mainz, as Wolfsburg grabbed a late draw against Hertha Berlin and Mainz scored twice to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Augsburg.

After an uneventful first half, Javairo Dilrosun’s well-angled finish broke the deadlock just after the hour mark, before Yunnus Malli equalised from the penalty spot three minutes from time.

Ondrej Duda appeared to have won it for Hertha with a direct free-kick moments later, but Admir Mehmedi prodded in another equaliser to rescue a point for the home side.

“The fact that we twice came back from behind against such a defensively strong opponent says a lot about my team,” said Wolfsburg coach Bruno Labbadia.

After both sides had goals disallowed in the first half, the game was heading towards a goalless draw when Augsburg’s Dong-won Ji sent the ball flying into the bottom corner.

Mainz though, hit back with goals from Anthony Ujah and Alexandru Maxim turning the game on its head in the last six minutes.

AFP

Bayern Midfielder Rodriguez To Pay $13.6m For Evading Taxes

James Rodriguez Wary Of Real Madrid's Champions League 'Chip'
Bayern Munich’s Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez gestures during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Sevilla FC in Munich, southern Germany.  Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Spain’s taxman wants Bayern Munich’s Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez to pay 11.65 million euros ($13.64m) for evading taxes when he played at Real Madrid, the El Mundo daily reported Thursday.

James, who moved to Bayern Munich last year, is accused of having evaded 6.35 million euros in taxes, mainly linked to his image rights, and would have to pay that amount plus a fine and interests for a total of 11.65 million euros, it reported.

Citing sources close to the case, the daily said James was transferred to Real Madrid from Monaco for 80 million euros mid-2014, but that year he registered as a non-resident.

Tax authorities, though, reportedly believe he should have registered as a resident, which means he should settle the difference, or 6.35 million euros, related to his salary and the sale of image rights.

Spain’s tax authorities refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

The 27-year-old, who won the Golden Boot for the top goal scorer in the 2014 World Cup, joins a long list of other players who have got on the wrong side of Spain’s taxman.

Some have reached deals, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently moved to Juventus from Real Madrid and accepted to pay 18.8 million euros and a two-year jail sentence he won’t have to serve.

FC Barcelona’s star Lionel Messi, though, went to court where he was fined 2.1 million euros for tax fraud and given 21 months in jail, which was subsequently converted into another fine.

AFP

James Rodriguez Left Out Of Colombia’s World Cup Opener

Colombia’s midfielder James Rodriguez smiles as he warms up before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group H football match between Colombia and Japan at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk on June 19, 2018. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

James Rodriguez was left out of Colombia’s starting line-up for their opening World Cup match against Japan on Tuesday as the Brazil 2014 top scorer labours with a calf strain.

The Bayern Munich star starts on the bench at the Mordovia Arena with Juan Quintero of River Plate filling Rodriguez’s attacking midfield role for the South Americans.

Monaco’s veteran striker Radamel Falcao captains the side with Sevilla forward Luis Muriel a surprise omission from the starting team.

There was a heavy German influence to Japan’s midfield with captain Makoto Hasebe, who plays for Eintracht Frankfurt, partnering Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa behind striker Yuya Osaka, who plays for Cologne.

The opening World Cup game is a big test for coach Akira Nishino, who only took charge 71 days ago.

Japan will try to claim revenge for their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Colombia, who reached the quarter-finals, in their final group game at the 2014 World Cup finals.

Colombia

David Ospina – Oscar Murillo, Santiago Arias, Johan Mojica, Davidson Sanchez – Carlos Sanchez, Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero, Jefferson Lerma – Radamel Falcao (capt), Jose Izquierdo

Coach: Jose Pekerman (ARG)

Japan

Eiji Kawashima – Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo, Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida – Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui, Makoto Hasebe (capt) – Yuya Osako

Coach: Akira Nishino (JPN)

Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)

AFP

Benzema, Bale Left On Real Bench As James Starts For Bayern

 

Benzema, Bale Left On Real Bench As James Starts For Bayern
Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane left out both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema from Real Madrid’s starting line-up for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Bayern Munich.

The holders started with Isco and Lucas Vazquez either side of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having already left Benzema on the bench for the quarter-final second leg against Juventus, Real coach Zidane dropped Bale as well.

Captain Sergio Ramos returned to Real’s starting line-up after missing the dramatic return game with Juve through suspension.

There were no such surprises in the Bayern line-up.

James Rodriguez, who is on loan from Real, started for the Germans against his parent club with midfielder Thiago Alcantara left on the bench.

Set-piece expert David Alaba failed to recover from a thigh injury and Rafinha took his place at left-back.

Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes opted for experience on the wings in Arjen Robben, 34, and Franck Ribery, 35, playing out wide with Robert Lewandowski through the middle.

Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1):

Sven Ulreich; Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Rafinha; Javi Martinez; Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller (capt), James Rodriguez, Franck Ribery; Robert Lewandowski

Coach: Jupp Heynckes (GER)

Real Madrid (4-3-3):

Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (capt), Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vazquez

Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Referee: Bjoern Kuipers (NED)

AFP

Bayern’s James Has Nothing To Prove To Real Madrid – Zidane

 

Zinedine Zidane insists James Rodriguez has nothing to prove to him when the Colombian faces Real Madrid with Bayern Munich in their Champions League semi-final, first leg, on Wednesday.

James has shone at Bayern since Zidane let him leave Real on a two-year loan deal last July at the end of three often difficult seasons in Madrid.

The Colombian attacking midfielder has rediscovered his best form while playing regularly again and has the chance in Munich to show Real and Zidane what they are missing.

“James loves to play football, so of course he’ll want to play well, but not to show me or prove me wrong,” said Real coach Zidane.

“I didn’t want James to leave. He wanted more game time, which I can understand.

“I never had any problem with him, he just wanted to play.”

Madrid paid Monaco 75 million euros ($91.7m) for James after he finished top scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and he made an impressive start in his first season.

However, Zidane’s appointment as Madrid coach in January 2016 set him back as the Frenchman gave him limited opportunities and often left him on the bench.

“The only reason he went was that he wanted to play more football,” said Zidane.

“I never had a problem with James, that was just something you journalists said.

“It’s the same problem every year, there are good players who have to sit on the bench and that’s sad.”

Real trail Barcelona by 15 points in La Liga and so the Champions League, which they have won in the last two seasons, is the last silverware available to them.

‘150 percent ready’

Zidane said Real are relishing the challenge against Bayern as they return to the Allianz Arena, scene of a 2-1 win in the first leg of the quarter-finals last season.

They also handed Bayern a record 4-0 home defeat in the 2014 semi-finals.

“We can’t shit our pants before a game like this, you have to enjoy it,” said Zidane with a grin.

“The players like matches like this, even if we know we will have to suffer to get a win here.

“This is a team which has been fighting at this level for a long time, it’s in the DNA of this club.

“We’ll be at 150 percent, I don’t have any doubt about that.”

Real’s goal-machine Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals over both legs in last season’s quarter-finals when Real beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate.

The Germans finished both legs with 10 men.

Javi Martinez was sent off in Real’s 2-1 win in Munich and Arturo Vidal also had two bookings when Bayern lost 4-2 after extra time in Madrid.

However, Real’s Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who won the 2013 Champions League title with Bayern, says the Bavarians are better than they were 12 months ago.

Under head coach Jupp Heynckes, who also steered them to the 2013 treble, Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title three weeks ago and are into the German Cup final.

“They won the (Bundesliga) title very early, but haven’t let up,” said Kroos.

“They are very hungry. Their shape is better than last year, they are in top form and playing more like a team under Heynckes, but we are here to change that.

“This is our last chance to win a title. We are highly motivated, as we have been the whole season long in the Champions League.

“We haven’t taken the easiest route this year with PSG (Paris Saint-Germain), Juventus and now Bayern, but we are on the verge of the final.”

AFP