Pressure back on Zidane

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Apr 2018 11:03:32




ZINEDINE Zidane said last week he wants to stay at Real Madrid but how welcome his wishes are will depend on the team’s Champions League tie against Juventus on Wednesday.Real face Zidane’s former club in the first leg of the quarter-final on Wednesday, knowing their season, and perhaps the Frenchman’s future as coach, hinges on reaching the last four.It was the same in the previous round against Paris Saint-Germain. Real’s limp La Liga title defence, combined with their early exit from the Copa del Rey, means they now have only one shot at winning a major trophy this term.

The mood in Madrid, however, is upbeat. Real have won 10 out of their last 11 matches, a run that has seen them brush aside PSG and move to within four points of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the league. They have scored 36 goals in that period, at an average of just over three a game.“The match comes at a good time for us,” Real forward Lucas Vazquez said. “We have been doing things well for the last few months, playing better, more goals, it’s a good moment and now we have to try to take advantage of it in this tie.”Zidane therefore declared his intentions on Friday from a position of strength but lose to Juventus and his pledge might look more like a plea.
Despite winning back-to-back Champions Leagues and the La Liga title last year, he is still not immune to the weight of Real’s expectation.

Zidane will be returning to Turin for the first time as a manager, his last outing as a player there coming in March 2005 when Real were beaten 2-0 by the Old Lady in the Champions League last 16.David Trezeguet’s goal and an extra-time winner from Marcelo Zalayeta sealed victory for Juve, then managed by Fabio Capello, against a Real side that included David Beckham, Ronaldo and Thomas Gravesen.Thirteen years on, Gianluigi Buffon is the only player likely to make a repeat appearance this week but the two current teams need no introduction, their latest meeting coming in the competition’s final last year.

That 4-1 victory remains the high-point of Zidane’s Real tenure, not only because it earned him an unprecedented second consecutive Champions League crown but because of the sheer ruthlessness of the performance.Bayern wary of another Sevilla surprise BAYERN Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has said there were no celebrations when his players watched the Champions League draw come out but Sevilla head into Wednesday’s tie as the overwhelming under-dogs of the quarter-finals.Only Roma, who play Barcelona on Wednesday, might claim to face a more formidable task in the last eight but the Italians have at least grown familiar with the competition’s knock-out rounds in recent seasons.

This will be Sevilla’s first ever appearance in a Champions League quarter-final.“The team was not euphoric (at the draw),” Heynckes said. “They reacted very calmly, as though they just had a beer.“Of course, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City are playing very well, Liverpool are playing well, but we had five English teams through and we were talking about the best league in the world—three of them are gone. So we must take these guys seriously.” Sevilla were responsible for the least expected blow landed on the Premier League after they dumped out Manchester United in the last 16 following a fearless 2-1 win at Old Trafford.