Real Madrid need many leaders in Ramos' absence against Man City – Varane

By Sports Desk August 06, 2020

Raphael Varane said Real Madrid require many leaders on the pitch to overhaul Manchester City for a Champions League quarter-final berth in the absence of star captain Sergio Ramos.

Madrid travel to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against City on Friday, having lost the opener 2-1 prior to the coronavirus-enforced break.

Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne condemned Madrid – who had Ramos sent off in the Spanish capital – to defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu in February.

With Ramos sidelined, regular centre-back partner Varane said: "I think Sergio is a very important player for us, but we know that we are a group where we all have our role.

"For example, I always help my team-mates, it is my way of playing and I like to cover others. In the locker room I talk a lot with my team-mates about the tactic, that will never change.

"To win the Champions League we have to be a strong group, with many leaders, we know the importance of Sergio, but we all have to play a great game to qualify."

Madrid head into the second leg having dethroned bitter rivals Barcelona as LaLiga champions after the 2019-20 season was halted in March due to COVID-19.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are riding an 11-game unbeaten streak since losing to Real Betis in March.

"I think we are doing well, we have made a very good streak to win LaLiga, we are all doing very well physically," France international Varane added.

"It has been a different preparation and a little strange, comparing it with what we are used to. We have had many days to prepare this final, we have done it as always with a lot of concentration, working on all aspects of our game trying to improve all the time.

"We arrived with confidence for the latest results and with more rest compared to if it had been played in March. I hope we are well prepared to win tomorrow."

Related items

  • Mourinho the right man to get the best out of Bale, says Poyet Mourinho the right man to get the best out of Bale, says Poyet

    Gareth Bale can make a difference in key moments as Jose Mourinho is the right coach to get the best out of him, according to former Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet.  

    Spurs moved to bring Bale back to north London on loan from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 campaign back in September.  

    The move was welcomed by supporters, who had hopes Bale could replicate the form that made him a fan favourite and twice led to the Wales international being named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  

    However, issues with injury and form have seen Bale start just once in the Premier League so far, while he has managed just one top-flight goal.  

    Across all competitions, Bale has 13 appearances, four goals, no assists, has created nine chances (two of which are defined by Opta as 'big chances'), while having 10 shots on target.  

    Prior to the FA Cup tie against Wycombe Wanderers on Monday, Mourinho said Bale had to earn his minutes after it was suggested he could benefit from more playing time.  

    Bale responded with a goal and an impressive showing in a 4-1 victory in that tie and Poyet – who played for Spurs between 2001 and 2004 – feels Mourinho is the ideal man to help the 31-year-old prosper.

    "I think you as a coach - and especially with the experience of Jose - you really believe in your way of managing," Poyet told Stats Perform News.  

    "And let's say it wasn't as easy as probably Jose thought. Because he was up and down.   

    "Now, I think he is still playing a part, even if it's in moments, he is still a player that at any time, any game, he can give you the difference between winning or not winning a game.   

    "I think we can see something, especially if he keeps himself fit. That's the key to the situation. So, you know, it's not only training well, it's about being fit enough to perform well.   

    "And there is a limit to Gareth at the moment, physically, that if he goes above that level, he can get injured. To control those levels is very, very difficult. But if there is someone who can do it, definitely it's Mourinho."

  • Man Utd demand action over racist abuse from 'anonymous mindless idiots' Man Utd demand action over racist abuse from 'anonymous mindless idiots'

    Manchester United have called on social media giants to step up efforts to banish racist abuse from their platforms after Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were targeted. 

    The United players received racist messages on Twitter and Instagram after United's 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield United on Wednesday. 

    Captain Harry Maguire said the club "will not tolerate" such behaviour. 

    In a statement, United said: "Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night's game. 

    "We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also. 

    "Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our All Red All Equal initiative. 

    "Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic. We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour."

    The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) revealed research in October that showed racist messages to players are disturbingly commonplace. 

    Of the sample of Premier League players it looked at in its study, the PFA said 43 per cent experienced online "targeted and explicitly racist abuse". 

    Speaking at the time about the findings of that research, Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling said social media operators must "show real leadership and take proper action in tackling online abuse". 

    Sterling added: "The technology is there to make a difference, but I’m increasingly questioning if there is the will."

  • Odegaard fighting losing battle with Messi comparison, says Arsenal boss Arteta Odegaard fighting losing battle with Messi comparison, says Arsenal boss Arteta

    Martin Odegaard was always fighting a "lost battle" with comparisons to Lionel Messi but has the characteristics needed to flourish at Arsenal, says Mikel Arteta. 

    The Gunners completed a deal to take Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid until the end of the season on Wednesday, handing the attacking midfielder the number 11 shirt that was worn by Mesut Ozil when he joined the club. 

    Odegaard was signed by Los Blancos from Stromsgodset as a prodigious teenager and has had loan spells in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen and Vitesse before impressing in a temporary stint with Real Sociedad last term. 

    Madrid opted to recall him for the 2020-21 campaign, though the 22-year-old struggled to nail down a regular spot in Zinedine Zidane's team. 

    Arteta is excited by Odegaard's qualities but did urge caution, saying comparisons to Barcelona great Messi are unhelpful. 

    "I wouldn't even get close to that name you just mentioned [Messi] because it's a lost battle in my opinion. Martin is Martin," Arteta said when previewing Saturday's clash with Manchester United. 

    "In the last few seasons he's progressed and developed in the right way. I follow him very closely because he played for Real Sociedad which is my hometown and I know him really well. 

    "He's such a talent. He needs the right environment, a little bit of time, but he's got the qualities to be a success for us. He's a specialist to playing in the pockets, to be in the number eight, number 10 positions. 

    "He can play on the sides, a really creative player, really comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, the capacity to create chances, to score goals. 

    "Something he has improved a lot is his work rate without the ball as well. It's another option to give us more creativity in the final third."

    Last season, Odegaard topped Sociedad's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total as he provided six assists from 31 appearances. He also boasted an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent. 

    This term he has been afforded just three LaLiga starts by Zidane, albeit Arteta made clear several factors will determine whether a permanent deal will be struck. 

    "He has certainly all the qualities and characteristics that we are looking for," he added. 

    "Then it would be down to two things – first of all, how well he adapts here and how much of an impact he can have in our team, and second, what Real Madrid and the player thinks about it because he's owned by Real Madrid and the player has a big say on that. 

    "I just wanted to give him a clear picture of who we are as a club, what we are trying to do, what we expect from him, just try to transmit the passion and excitement that we had to bring him in. 

    "I wanted to show him the project, how he fits and just try to persuade him that this is the right place for him and try to make things work." 

    Arsenal are on a six-match unbeaten run in the Premier League to improve their previously precarious top-flight standing to ninth. 

    They welcome a Manchester United side who saw their own 13-match unbeaten league run surprisingly ended by rock-bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday. 

    "It's not a surprise because to beat any team in this league is extremely difficult and it's not taken for granted," Arteta said when asked about that game.  

    "Sheffield United are a really good threat and you see that. They've lost games they didn't deserve to lose." 

    Arsenal were the last side to beat United in the league before the Blades' unlikely triumph, while they have not lost to the Red Devils since an FA Cup defeat in January 2019. 

    Still, Arteta says there is nothing to be gleaned from a decent recent record against United. 

    "I think every game is completely different, they have the capacity and the quality to beat any side in the world, we know we’re going to have to be at our best," he said. 

    "The games are huge, we need to be better than what we were on Tuesday [a 3-1 win at Southampton] to beat them. 

    "They've been in top form. They've been top of the table playing really well. We know they are a real threat. We have to be at our best to beat them on Saturday."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.