Zinedine Zidane expects Real Madrid to hit back against Tottenham Hotspur in Wembley debut

first_imgReal Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he thrives in adversity and believes their first ever trip to Wembley Stadium to face Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday can help the Spanish giants shake off the hangover of a sticky start to the season.A shock 2-1 defeat at Catalan side Girona on Sunday left the Liga champions eight points behind arch rivals Barcelona, having drawn two and lost two of their opening 10 domestic league games as they struggle to retain the Spanish title.They will be without first choice keeper Keylor Navas, centre back Raphael Varane, right back Dani Carvajal and former Spurs forward Gareth Bale when they face the London side in the Champions league under the iconic Wembley arch.Defeat could leave Real facing the prospect of finishing as runners-up in Group H, but Zidane is not dwelling on the current sticky patch and is turning the dip in form into a positive.”We are feeling good and ready to perform well against a great team in Tottenham Hotspur,” the former Real player told reporters at Spurs’ temporary Wembley home, which they are using while they build a new stadium at their White Hart lane ground.”Personally I always have the same hopes, the same motivation when I go about my job. After a defeat of course people aren’t happy but in some ways I like this. I like having the motivation of a big match to get back to winning ways.”I think when the going gets tough it’s when I work my best. There will always be hard moments but it’s important to always trust and come back stronger.advertisement”It is not without its complications in the build-up but we are prepared to go out and do our job. Rest assured, the players are going to be very well prepared for this match.”TACTICAL DUELReal, European champions two years in a row, were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Tottenham at the Bernabeu two weeks ago and Zidane is looking forward to another tactical duel with Tottenham’s Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino.”Pochettino has done exceptional work with Tottenham, I think very highly of him,” Zidane said. “He is doing a fantastic job at Tottenham, with the team and also building a club that now has very high aspirations.”You don’t need me to say it, results speak for themselves.”Real have never played at Wembley and Zidane, who graced the original stadium as a player, says it provides the perfect stage for his players to bounce back from the weekend defeat.”Wembley is an important place in the football world. It’s a great stage to play on against great opposition,” he said.”Of course the players approach every match with the same mentality to win. But it’s a beautiful stadium and will be a great spectacle.”Wembley represents a lot in the football world but for me what is more important is that two great teams are coming up against each other.”last_img read more

O’Neill eyes play-off spot for Republic of Ireland

first_imgWC Qualification Europe O’Neill remains confident of Irish progression despite Serbia reverse Guy Atkinson 07:43 9/6/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) martinoneill-cropped Getty Images WC Qualification Europe Republic of Ireland v Serbia Republic of Ireland Serbia Despite a 1-0 defeat to Serbia, the manager refuses to give up his nation’s hopes of reaching next year’s tournament in Russia Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill insists that his side can still qualify for the 2018 World Cup despite Tuesday’s loss to Serbia.O’Neill saw his side suffer their first competitive loss at home under his reign to a dominant Serbian outfit, who took all three points at the Aviva Stadium thanks to Aleksandar Kolarov’s impressive second-half strike.Ireland have now fallen to third in Group D, one point behind Wales who snuck past Moldova 2-0. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina The Irish host Moldova next month before travelling to Wales for what looks set to be a decider for a potential play-off berth, with Serbia all-but guaranteed top spot. O’Neill said: “We are not beaten – far from it. We have the last two games now that we must win and if we can beat Moldova then it sets it up for the final game, where we’ll have to go to Wales and win.”Everybody’s down, but it’s still in our hands and that’s the most important thing. We can get to the play-offs, we can still make it.”Ireland started the game brightly but struggled to contain a powerful Serbian side once they got into their stride, with Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic once again proving an impressive force in midfield.O’Neill, however, was encouraged by his side’s display and was convinced they would take something from the game.He added: “I thought we played very, very well. We’ve come in [at half-time] and thought we could win the second half. They got a little break just after half-time, but I thought: ‘we can win this match’. “We threw caution to the wind at the end of the match to try and get something out of it, but it eventually eluded us.”Aleksandar Kolarov pic.twitter.com/28uhHsi2D1— European Qualifiers (@EuroQualifiers) September 5, 2017Serbia played the final 20 minutes with ten men after the dismissal of Nikola Maksimovic, but held firm to withstand the late Irish pressure.They know a win against Austria next month will secure their place in Russia next year, but manager Slavoljub Muslin isn’t letting his players get carried away. He said: “Of course we are very close to achieving the main goal, but there a couple of matches left. This is very important for us because we didn’t progress to the last three competitions. “This was one of the most difficult games in my career as a coach. It was also one of the most important games because we knew this would be the decisive game to go to the World Cup. “We know it is not all over, there are two games left to play. We know we just need one point but we will fight hard to achieve it, my boys and me.”last_img read more