Zidane urges patience from Real Madrid as 10-time champions totter on brink of Champions League exit
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted that he remains positive his side will overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals
Madrid: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted that he remains positive his side will overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals against Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
Madrid need to end a run of bowing out of the Champions League after losing the first leg, a run that goes back eight times, but Zidane stressed upon the need for patience. "I am always positive and I achieved something as a player with this philosophy," said Zidane, who scored the winner for Real in the 2002 Champions League final.
"What most concerns me is to see the faces of my players and they are very focused on the game, so that eases the pressure. We need to score, but we have 90 minutes or more to do so," Zidane said.
Madrid's fortunes have turned around dramatically in La Liga in recent weeks as they came from behind to end Barcelona's 39-game unbeaten run earlier this month before closing to within four points of the leaders with six games to go after Barca lost again at Real Sociedad on Saturday.
And Zidane is hopeful the momentum of their league form will carry into a famous night at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Madrid have scored 37 goals in nine games since he took charge in January. "The message is patience because we know anything can happen in football," he added. "As we've seen in La Liga — we were 13 points behind and now we are four. That is the great thing about football. We have to keep our heads, we are not going to win (the tie) in 10 or 15 minutes. It will be much more difficult if they score a goal. Anything can happen, but we need to be concentrated from the first minute," Zidane added.
Madrid will be at full strength as Karim Benzema has recovered from a knee knock that forced him off in the first leg. Captain Sergio Ramos returns from suspension, whilst the likes of Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were rested for Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Eibar. "We have a great team full of talent and I think that the whole side is capable of coming back tomorrow with the help from our fans," said Modric.
Wolfsburg weren't so successful at the weekend as a 1-1 draw at home to Mainz all but ended their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League through the Bundesliga.
"Everyone knows we are not playing perfectly in our own league but we are doing very well in the Champions League," said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking. "We had a great start in the first game and it is not being arrogant to say we can qualify. We knew we needed two magnificent days, we already had one and now we need another one."
However, Hecking claiming Madrid's history as 10-time winners means they are still favourites to make a sixth consecutive semi-final. "If we compare the history of both teams, we know who are the favourites," he added. "Over the two games Real Madrid are still favourites, but our task is for the favourites to fail."
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.
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.
The 36-year-old striker, who left United to join Real Madrid in 2009, has been training with his new team-mates for the past few days.