Champions League: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane 'optimistic' about turning club's form around

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he is still 'optimistic' as the Spanish giants look to shrug off a poor run of form in La Liga by securing their place in the Champions League last 16.

AFP November 21, 2017 17:18:17 IST
Champions League: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane 'optimistic' about turning club's form around

Nicosia: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he is still "optimistic" as the Spanish giants look to shrug off a poor run of form in La Liga by securing their place in the Champions League last 16.

European champions in each of the last two seasons, Madrid will be guaranteed a place in the last 16 with a game to spare in Group H by beating APOEL in Cyprus on Tuesday.

Champions League Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane optimistic about turning clubs form around

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane speaks during a press conference before their match against APOEL Nicosia. AP

But they travelled to the eastern Mediterranean on the back of a 0-0 draw at city rivals Atletico on Saturday which left them third in La Liga, 10 points behind leaders Barcelona after only 12 games.

They have won just one of their last four games and emerged from a recent Champions League double-header with Tottenham Hotspur with only a point to trail the English side in the group.

It is the first crisis of Zidane's still fledgeling coaching career, but the Frenchman dismissed the building pressure.

"I am immensely lucky, first of all, to be in good health and secondly to be making a living from my passion. I like what I do," he told a press conference in Nicosia ahead of Tuesday's game.

"There are more difficult jobs. But whatever happens, I am remaining optimistic. There might be times when some people worry. Not me, never."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have both scored just once in La Liga this season, while Gareth Bale is out injured.

But Ronaldo has produced six goals in the Champions League, including a brace in the 3-0 win at home to APOEL in September.

Zidane added: "We are one step away from qualifying. We are Real Madrid and we know that people will always want more from us.

"We can't say we have been playing badly, but we need to get our confidence back in front of goal. If we can get one or two goals then more will follow."

A point will also be enough for Madrid to ensure progress provided struggling Borussia Dortmund do not beat Tottenham in Germany.

APOEL are still in with a realistic chance of pipping Dortmund to the consolation of a Europa League spot having drawn home and away with the German side in their last two games.

They are also fresh from big wins in their last two league games after a slow start to their Cypriot title defence.

"It is not going to be an easy match. I don't watch the Cypriot league, but I have seen how they play in the Champions League," said Zidane, who is without Sergio Ramos after the defender suffered a broken nose against Atletico.

"APOEL are a very good side. They have to win to stay in with a chance, so we need to remain focused."

Updated Date:

also read

Champions League: Manchester United suffer shock loss against Young Boys; Bayern beat Barca
Sports

Champions League: Manchester United suffer shock loss against Young Boys; Bayern beat Barca

Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock for Chelsea after 69 minutes at Stamford Bridge to earn the holders a 1-0 victory over Zenit, whose Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg is the venue for next May's final.

Champions League: All eyes on European football's big-spenders as group stages begin
Sports

Champions League: All eyes on European football's big-spenders as group stages begin

PSG, backed by Qatar Sports Investment since 2011, reached the Champions League semi-finals last season and the final the year before that, but have never won the title.

Champions League: Manchester United learn that Cristiano Ronaldo's goals alone won't suffice
Sports

Champions League: Manchester United learn that Cristiano Ronaldo's goals alone won't suffice

A club that remains the fourth-richest in the world according to Deloitte's most recent Football Money League continues to live on past glories that won them three European Cups.