MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted he remains positive his side will overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals against Wolfsburg today. Madrid need to end a run of bowing out in the Champions League the last eight times they have lost the first leg, but Zidane also stressed the need for patience as an away goal for the Germans would leave Real needing four to go through. “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.”
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-with Barcelona’s goal 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.” 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.
Coach Dieter Hecking admitted any chance the Germans were underestimated by Madrid in the first leg will certainly not be repeated in the Spanish capital. “If it was the case that Real had underestimated us in the first leg, they definitely won’t do that again,” he said.
However, German international Andre Schuerrle claimed his side were “one million percent ready” to continue their historic European run and the former Chelsea forward is hopeful of killing the tie off with an away goal. “We have already shown that we have the quality up front and if we get a goal, that will make it all a lot easier.” — AFP