Friday, December 14, 2018

Zidane enjoying challenge of lifting off-form Real Madrid

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 31 Oct 2017

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Zinedine Zidane is relishing the challenge of turning around Real Madrid’s inconsistent form as they prepare to face Tottenham in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The victor when the top two meet at Wembley in Group H will guarantee a place in the next round, but both sides go into the match on the back of a league defeat.

Spurs were on the wrong end of a tight 1-0 scoreline away to Manchester United in the Premier League, while Madrid suffered a shock 2-1 loss when they visited LaLiga newcomers Girona on Sunday.

But with Madrid defending the Champions League title they have won in each of the last two seasons, an unfazed Zidane believes his team will not be affected by that surprise reverse.

“We’re in good shape. People may think that from the outside after losing we are poor mentally but it’s not the case,” Zidane told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re feeling good and we’re thinking about the game.

“We’ve been working well in the last few days for a game at a great place to play football. I don’t think [losing to Girona] was the worst game of the season. This is football. As we all know, when you lose it’s frustrating but it’s for a reason.

“But we can’t keep thinking about that. It’s happened and we have to do what we know, go out and play football. Nothing changes in our mind or in our approach so we give everything and try to win the game. 

“I’ve still got the same passion. The most important thing is to keep working hard. After a defeat, you never like to lose, but I like the challenge. We have a good game coming up tomorrow and we have to go out and try to get back to winning ways.

What we want to do is come back and win again. Life is like this – you have to trust your methods and come back stronger.”

Spurs could be without leading goalscorer Harry Kane for the visit of Madrid, the England striker battling to recover from a hamstring injury, while Mauricio Pochettino unveiled a tactical surprise with a change in shape to a front two for the 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But Zidane does not believe Tottenham’s formation will be a big factor in Wednesday’s game, although he admires the work Pochettino is doing at the Premier League club.

“I think a lot of Pochettino, he is doing a great job with a good side,” Zidane said. “They are a club with a chance to do great things. It’s not just me saying that, the results speak for themselves.

“I don’t think it’s more difficult to attack three defenders. Some teams play five, some teams play four, some teams play three. We don’t know and we’ll have to see. There could be a surprise.

“The players know where they are. They approach all the games with the same mentality – to win. It’s a great stage to play football. We’re not sure how big the crowd will be and Wembley represents a lot in football but what is more important is that we’re going to see two good sides and that’s great for the fans.

“As for me, I played in the old Wembley and that was a great feeling. I won’t be lucky enough to play tomorrow – that is for the players to experience.”

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