Zidane Gets Breathing Space After Sevilla Win

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente (R) scores a goal during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Under-pressure Zinedine Zidane said Real Madrid’s 1-0 win at Sevilla on Saturday, their first in La Liga since October, was significant after a testing recent period for the Frenchman.

Sevilla goalkeeper Bono guided Vinicius Junior’s effort into his own net in the second half, allowing Zidane’s side to move up to third in the table following two defeats in their past three games.

“These are three very important points for us. It’s a well-deserved win, against a very good opponent, who can put you in trouble at any time. We got through this,” Zidane said.

“It has been a bit difficult lately, today we have to enjoy it, be happy, but nothing more,” he added.

Since Madrid crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek to leave their Champions League qualification hopes in the balance, press reports in Spain have linked former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Madrid forward Raul to Zidane’s job.

Zidane made two changes from the debacle in Ukraine with Casemiro and Vinicius replacing Martin Odegaard and Marco Asensio.

Ex-Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui brought back Bono into the starting lineup after he missed four games with coronavirus which included Wednesday’s heavy European defeat to Chelsea.

Morocco’s Bono made a shaky start as his attempted clearance inside his own box was blocked by Vinicius.

He made up for the error on his own line despite Karim Benzema’s efforts.

The former Girona keeper kept the sides equal at the break with a tidy save from Benzema’s 38th-minute shot, but his crucial mistake came 10 minutes into the second half.

Ferland Mendy played a low cross into the area before Vinicius slid in to guide it towards the goal.

Bono came out to close the space but deflected Vinicius’ limp attempt into his own goal.

The hosts’ Suso, making his first appearance since late October, and Lucas Ocampos had late chances to equalise but Zidane’s men held on for a morale-boosting win before Wednesday’s crucial Champions League group game against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Later, Atletico Madrid, unbeaten in the Spanish top-flight this season and in-form forward Joao Felix can go above surprise leaders Real Sociedad and take top spot as they host Real Valladolid, while Barcelona head to Cadiz.

Sociedad, who have lost just once in the league this term, travel to Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

 

Atletico Madrid’s Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic (C) kicks the ball during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Atletico Madrid’s French midfielder Thomas Lemar celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Atletico Madrid’s players celebrate after French midfielder Thomas Lemar scored a goal during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente (R) scores a goal during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on December 5, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

Liverpool Advance In Champions League, Real Madrid Defeat Heaps Pressure On Zidane

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane stands on the sideline during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and Cadiz CF at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, northeastern Madrid, on October 17, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

 

Curtis Jones sent a depleted Liverpool through to the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, while Zinedine Zidane dismissed suggestions he might walk away from Real Madrid after another defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk left their European hopes in the balance.

Liverpool were without a host of key players for the visit of Ajax to Anfield in Group D, with 22-year-old Irishman Caoimhin Kelleher starting in goal in the absence of Alisson.

Teenager Jones scored the only goal just before the hour, tucking the ball in after Ajax ‘keeper Andre Onana thought he could afford to let a Neco Williams cross sail over his head.

The result was vital for the Premier League champions after their home loss to Atalanta a week ago, and it allowed them to secure a spot in the knockout phase.

“Honestly since I was at Liverpool that feels like one of the biggest Champions League nights. Without supporters in, it was the most important, most difficult, most exceptional,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport.

They will go through as group winners after Atalanta had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Midtjylland, Cristian Romero heading in a late equaliser in response to Alexander Scholz’s thumping opener for the Danes.

Atalanta are a point clear in second from Ajax, with the sides meeting in Amsterdam in their last game next week.

Two-time former European champions Porto also sealed a last-16 spot after drawing 0-0 at home to Manchester City, who were already through and are now guaranteed to top Group C.

Porto would have qualified regardless, because Olympiakos lost 2-1 to Marseille in France, with Dimitri Payet scoring two penalties in the second half to turn the game around after Mohamed Mady Camara fired the Greeks in front.

The result ends Marseille’s Champions League record run of 13 straight defeats and means they could yet pip Olympiakos to third place and the consolation of a Europa League berth.

– Lukaku double, Atletico held –
Real Madrid could yet be consigned to a similar fate after they went down 2-0 to Shakhtar in Kiev, their second defeat this season by the Ukrainians.

Substitutes Dentinho and Manor Solomon scored second-half goals in Kiev as Shakhtar stunned the 13-time European champions again, having won 3-2 in Madrid in October.

Shakhtar had lost their last two Group B matches against Borussia Moenchengladbach by an aggregate score of 10-0, but now move above Real into second place with one game remaining.

Gladbach are top by a point, while Shakhtar have the upper hand on Real thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

However, the damage was limited for Real after Inter Milan won 3-2 away to Gladbach to keep their own hopes alive.

Matteo Darmian put Inter ahead and Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Antonio Conte’s side. Alassane Plea netted a brace for Gladbach but was denied a hat-trick, and a late equaliser, because of an offside call.

It means Inter are bottom of the group but could still qualify, while Real will definitely qualify as long as they win at home to Gladbach.

Madrid have made it out of their group in every year since 1997 and so failure to qualify would be seen as a disaster, but Zidane is not considering stepping down.

“I am not going to resign, not at all. We are always going to have difficult moments, and we are on a bad run, but we need to keep going,” said the Frenchman.

Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid will also still have it all to do in their final group game after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by a weakened Bayern Munich.

Joao Felix gave Atletico the lead against a Bayern side who had already won Group A. Thomas Mueller won and then converted a late penalty to earn the defending champions a draw.

Salzburg can snatch a last-16 place if they beat Atletico at home next week, after the Austrians won 3-1 away to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Mergim Berisha scored twice in the first half for Salzburg, and Karim Adeyemi got their third goal after Anton Miranchuk converted a penalty for the railway-backed side.

 

Transfer Deadline: Zidane Quashes Bale Exit Rumours

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane looks on before during the Spanish league football match Real Valladolid FC against Real Madrid CF at the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on January 26, 2020.
CESAR MANSO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane has said he is “not contemplating” Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid on Friday before the end of the January transfer window. 

Bale came close to joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last summer and English newspaper the Times reported on Friday the Welshman was in talks to rejoin his former club Tottenham.

But a source at Spurs has told AFP they are not in negotiations to sign Bale this month. Another source close to the player insisted earlier this week that “nothing has changed” and he would not be leaving Real Madrid in January.

 

Asked about the possibility of Bale being sold on Friday, Zidane said in a press conference: “Gareth is with us, I’m counting on him. I do not contemplate this possibility.”

Bale was left out of the squad to face Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, having completed only one full training session following an ankle injury.

Zidane would not say if he would return for the city derby against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

“I’m not going to tell you who is going to play,” Zidane said. “The players all have to be prepared.”

There was also a positive update regarding the fitness of Eden Hazard, who has recovered from his foot injury and could feature against Atletico.

“We’ll see but he has been training with us all week,” Zidane said. “He could be included tomorrow but we will never take any risks.”

Hazard has not played since fracturing his foot against Paris Saint-Germain on November 26.

Real Madrid face Atletico on the back of a 20-game unbeaten run. They sit top of La Liga, three points clear of Barcelona.

Champions League: Atletico, Real Madrid Arrive For Milan Final

Champions League, Atletico, Real MadridThe city of Milan is getting ready for the final of the UEFA Champions League as arch rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid compete for the coveted trophy on Saturday evening.

Majority of the Spanish fans are expected to start arriving by air, rail and road on Saturday. Fans already arrived in Milan are hoping that they would see an exciting match.

10-time European champions, Real Madrid have arrived their Milan hotel ahead of the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first player off the bus and the Portuguese should be fit to play.

The Portuguese set alarm bells ringing on Tuesday when he ended training prematurely with a knock but was fit to train again the following day.

He has scored 16 goals in the competition this season.

Zinedine Zidane’s men are without defenders Raphael Varane and Alvaro Arbeloa for the game.

Meanwhile a crowd of Atletico Madrid fans gathered outside the Hotel Melia in Milan to also welcome their team as they arrived.

Atletico players briefly waved at a group of supporters, many dressed in the team’s jerseys and waving red and white flags, before entering their hotel.

While Madrid will be missing two players, Atletico have a clean bill of health.

It is a far cry from the dishevelled state in which Diego Simeone’s team arrived at the 2014 final, when they struggled with fitness after a long season and suffered key injuries.

The teams’ face off at the San Siro stadium is a repeat of the 2014 final in Lisbon which saw Real come from behind to win 4-1 after extra-time.

Champions League: Ronaldo Injury Scare Ahead Of Final

Champions League, RonaldoReal Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo says he will be fit to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday after limping out of training.

Ronaldo left the pitch with a thigh problem following a clash with goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

The Portuguese forward was seen showing his thigh to medical staff, receiving attention, he later described the injury as a minor scare.

“I had a small problem in the training session, a ‘sandwich’ (bocadillo) as they say in Spain. But tomorrow or the day after I will be fine,” he told reporters.

Ronaldo has not completed his last three training sessions.

Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane has admitted that Ronaldo sat out a full training as a precaution.

“There will be no problem with that. We had a game among ourselves on Saturday and (Ronaldo) didn’t play, but (only) as a precaution as he felt something small.

“He is preparing for the final and I think we’ll be in good shape physically,” Zidane said.

Real Madrid Stars React To Champions League Final Qualification

Real MadridIn a repeat of the 2014 Lisbon final, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will meet each other at the San Siro on May 28 in the 2016 Champions League final.

Real Madrid beat Manchester City 1-0 to set up the all Spanish final for the second time in three seasons after a first-half own goal from Fernando was enough to secure a narrow win that barely reflected Real’s dominant.

It was a perfect night for Zinedine Zidane. He has just passed the four-month mark as Real Madrid coach and his team are now through to the Champions League final.

The Frenchman had the following to say about his team reaching the final in Milan; “I’m happy, not just for myself; it was a team effort. I’m happy for the players because what they did tonight was fantastic. We suffered because that always happens in semi-finals, but we’ve got through to the final and that is what is important for us.

“We won the game 1-0 and that shows that we had to dig in against a very strong side. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and can say that City didn’t do anything in the game. I think that they did a lot. We hardly allowed them any chances because we defended well and got things right tactically.”

On his part in the success; “I’m the coach of this team. For sure, I’m doing something right. But, it’s not just me, it’s down to everyone who works alongside me. The most important ones are the players, it’s them who allow us to enjoy the football.

“I love football and when I see them doing what they do, I’m happy. I suffer a bit more as a coach than I did as a player. I feel tense during the games. We’ve got to enjoy these moments.”

Important Goal

Madrid went ahead in the first half when Bale picked up Dani Carvajal’s pass and aimed a cross towards the far post that was deflected by Fernando past Joe Hart into the top corner.

He said of the goal that has been credited as an own goal, “The most important thing was to get the goal and that the ball ended up in the net. It doesn’t matter who scores it, the only thing that matters is that it was an important goal which has sent us through to the final. We’ve now got the chance to win another Champions League title”.

Other Real Madrid stars have also spoken about the victory and their expectations from Milan.

Left back, Marcelo said; “In the Champions League there is always a lot of tension, they are tough games. In every competition we play in, we try to do the best we can. It is difficult because they are tough competitions, but we are in the Champions League final and we have a very difficult game ahead of us. We are going into the end of season strong.”

Jesé says; “Last time I wasn’t in the final and now I have the good fortune and opportunity to be there and help the team. This year we deserve to win something and I’m happy.

“All madridistas want to win the Champions League and important things and now we have the opportunity. It is the product of months of work and in the final we have to fight till the last”.

Tough Season

Veteran defender Sergio Ramos considers it a very special night coming off a very tough season.

“After such a tough season, the hard work and the team’s togetherness means that we’re able to enjoy our second final in three years. We dug in and we worked together when we had to.

“The Champions League demands great concentration levels, we performed very well defensively and we put away the chance that we had. We must now enjoy this because it’s a special moment and it takes a lot of hard work to get to a final”.

“The team and the supporters deserve it. Once again, they got fully behind us and were our 12th man. We’ve now got to enjoy this and give our all in another final, we’ve already shown that we know how to win the final.

“It was a very special night for the Real Madrid fans and we’re really keen to bring the eleventh European title back home to our supporters.”

La Liga Quality

Cristiano Ronaldo, in his analysis of the semi-final win against Manchester City, tagged it a busy game.

“The team did well, we controlled the game and had more opportunities. We could have killed the game with a second goal and 1-0 is a small result but it is sufficient. We are in the final, which was our aim. We knew we needed to score and in the first game in Manchester we deserved to. Today as well, we were the better team and it is fair that we are in the final”.

“It is a final. We are facing Atletico again and I’m happy. This shows the quality of La Liga. I am very happy to be in the final and we still have a chance in La Liga.”

Ronaldo also had good words for the coach; “Zidane is doing a fine job. He is helping us and we are happy with his work. I admire him as a coach and as a person, and I hope that he stays with us.

“We have always been with him. He is a humble person, he likes to learn and listen to the players and it is very easy in this sense.”

Real Madrid will go in search of their eleventh European Cup title, against Atlético de Madrid at the San Siro.

It will be the fourth time that this stadium plays host to a European Cup final after the previous showdowns in 1965, 1970 and 2001.

It is the second time in the history of the European Cup that two sides from the same city face each other in the final. The first of these meetings was also between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

In a repeat of the final from two years ago, in which Real Madrid lifted the Décima in Lisbon, Zinedine Zidane’s men will be looking to win and claim their eleventh European Cup title.

UCL: Real Madrid, Manchester City Bosses Laud Players

Real MadridReal Madrid Coach, Zinedine Zidane, is pleased with his side’s 3-0 win against Wolfsburg at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Spain.

Zidane said that although it was a challenging match, he could not deny the fact that they did a good job.

“It is not easy to start how we did, scoring two goals in 15 minutes. We went in with a really high intensity (and) we showed the opposition that it was important for us to win and go through,” the French said on the club’s website.

He also commended the Whites’ messiah, Cristiano Ronaldo whom he described as the world’s best player, saying he was demonstrating what he is.

“What can I say about Cristiano Ronaldo? He is demonstrating what he is, the best player in the world. That’s what makes him a special player,” he said.

Manchester City Manager, Manuel Pellegrini, has also asked his side to go all the way in the Champions League after their historic 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).Manuel Pellegrini

Kevin De Bruyne fired city through to the last four of the league for the first time with his 76th-minute winner at the Etihad stadium.

As Madrid and City progress to the semi-final in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), Manuel Pellegrini could meet his city successor, Pep Guardiola should Bayern Munich beat Benfica on Wednesday.

UCL: Cristiano Ronaldo Hat Trick Sends Real Madrid To Semis

Cristiano RonaldoA hat trick by Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that Real Madrid would be playing in their sixth consecutive semi-final of the UEFA Champions League (UCL).

The Spanish giants had suffered a shocking 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg in Germany in the first leg but made the comeback that so many predicted in style.

Two quick goals in the first half put Zidane’s men on their way, although they had to endure some nervy moments as Wolfsburg tried to get a goal which could have changed the game entirely.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Toni Kroos whipped an inviting corner delivery in towards the near post, and he placed a perfect header beyond Benaglio.

With a sense of urgency, leaving no time to celebrate, the Portuguese was back again within two minutes. It was another header off a well delivered corner kick.

The second half resumed with Madrid still in the ascendancy and in the 77th minute, Ronaldo completed his hat trick with a trade mark free-kick.

In England, Manchester made it to the semi-final of the Champions League for the first time in their history with a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Kevin De Bruyne scored in the 76th minute to send Manchester City into the Champions League last four with a 3-2 aggregate success.

They had secured a 2-2 draw in the quarter-final first leg in Paris a week earlier.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic did have the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside.