Zidane insists 'I'm no fatalist' as Real Madrid target crucial win at Inter

By Sports Desk November 24, 2020

Zinedine Zidane insists Real Madrid will go to Inter to win despite injuries and a run of three victories in eight games placing the Spanish champions under scrutiny.

Madrid are third in Champions League Group B, a point above the Nerazzurri, after winning the reverse fixture 3-2.

A second group win of the season would put them in a strong position to progress, but they head to San Siro without captain Sergio Ramos, midfielder Federico Valverde or striker Karim Benzema.

Madrid are also coming off the back of a 4-1 loss to Valencia and a 1-1 draw at Villarreal in their previous two LaLiga matches, while they have only won twice in their past seven games in Europe.

Yet Zidane is not prepared to set his side out simply to avoid defeat despite the precarious nature of both the group and his squad of available players.

"No, we always go out to win, we always want to win," he said. "We can't think about drawing or losing. All I'm telling you is the most important thing is to give everything on the pitch. We always go out onto the pitch to win.

"Football is physical and mental and the mental part is just as important. My analysis is: this is football. There are moments you are very strong and you can bounce back and there are more difficult moments, like the general situation is now in this world we live in. It's correct we're going through a lower period.

"It was a difficult game but it's not just Real Madrid. I think every team has had difficulties in this season.

"The team started and ended the game well [against Inter] but it was difficult because we're playing very good teams. Against Villarreal, the same happened.

"Winning the game until the 74th, 75th minute, but in one play, which can happen, they scored a goal. I'm not a fatalist; I just think this is part of football. We try to work and get better, which is key. We try not to concede and to score goals ourselves."

The loss of Ramos is a particular concern as Madrid have suffered seven defeats in the past eight Champions League matches the centre-back has missed.

"We know how important he is as a player, but we have to break this statistic," Zidane said. "Obviously, we'd like him to be here, but he's injured.

"We're going to try to change that bad record because it's a final, it's three points, we know the situation in the group and we'll have to suffer, fight hard, but we're ready for it."

Isco is part of the squad despite his agent suggesting the midfielder wants a move in January, but Zidane was not prepared to discuss the topic.

"I'm not going to talk about rumours. Right now, he is our player and we're happy with him," he said.

Related items

  • Erling Haaland: Just how brilliant has the Borussia Dortmund's star first year been? Erling Haaland: Just how brilliant has the Borussia Dortmund's star first year been?

    Much has changed in the past 12 months but one thing that has stayed the same is the mind-boggling brilliance of Erling Haaland.

    It has been exactly 12 months since the Norway striker made his debut for Borussia Dortmund following a big-money move from Salzburg.

    Haaland came off the bench against Augsburg on that occasion after 56 minutes and scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 win, offering a taste of things to come.

    Here, we have crunched the Opta numbers to highlight just how brilliant Haaland has been.

    Haaland competing with the best

    If you're a football fan, the only way you could have not spotted Haaland's meteoric rise over the last year is if you live under the proverbial rock.

    Indeed, using data across all competitions for the top-five European leagues since his Dortmund debut, only two players can better his tally of 35 goals. 

    Prepare to be shocked here (Narrator: there is zero shock value involved), those players were Robert Lewandowski (49) and Cristiano Ronaldo (40).

    Ciro Immobile, Romelu Lukaku (each 33) and Lionel Messi (29) all trail Haaland, and when we view the numbers through a different lens his past 12 months become even more impressive.

    Both Lewandowski (42) and Ronaldo (40) started more games than Haaland's 29. When looking at goals scored per 90 minutes, the Dortmund's star has 1.18 compared to 1.15 for Lewandowski, and 0.99 for Ronaldo. Surprisingly, Luis Muriel 1.57 heads the way here.

    What is even more startling is the fact Haaland had 102 shots (including blocks) during this period, way down on Messi (253), Ronaldo (235) and Lewandowski (180).

    Indeed, his goals have come from only 58 shots on target. Messi (115), Lewandowski (90) and Ronaldo (85) again head these metrics.

    When looking at shots on target per 90, Haaland (1.96) ranks below Muriel (3.14), Messi (2.53), Kylian Mbappe (2.15), Lewandowski and Ronaldo (each 2.11).

    No one can better Haaland's shot-conversion rate of 34.31 (Lewandowski for comparison is fifth on 27.22), and while Lewandowski (40) and Ronaldo (29) beat the 28 'big chances' he has scored, both have a lower 'big-chance' conversion rate (55.56 and 52.73 to Haaland's 60.87).

    And when it comes to goals/minutes ratio, Haaland's 76.26 is beaten only by Muriel's 55.33. Lewandowski (78.37) and Ronaldo (90.68) are next on the list.

    Bundesliga defences taken to Haal-and back

    May we all take a brief moment to show our thoughts for Bundesliga defences, who have been given a torrid time by Lewandowski over the past year.

    Okay, that's long enough…

    If we crunch similar numbers for goals across all competitions for just Bundesliga strikers, it's not exactly hard to see why Haaland has been such a big star in Germany's top flight.

    While Lewandowski's 49 goals remain a high, Haaland's 35 is still comfortably better than Andre Silva (26) and Wout Weghorst (24).

    The 1.18 goals per 90 minutes is a best among strikers playing in Germany. Lewandowski is of course close behind, but the next best are Lucas Alario (0.86), Andrej Kramaric (0.8) and Silva (0.76).

    Lewandowski (180), Serge Gnabry (112) and Silva (110) have all taken more shots but only Lewandowski's 90 on target beats Haaland's 58. Weghorst (53), Gnabry (52) and Silva (51) are not too far behind.

    Silva (22) and Weghorst (21) have each scored fewer of their 'big chances', while only three players have a higher 'big-chance' conversion among Bundesliga players.

    In terms of goals/minute ratio – Haaland and Lewandowski are the only players below 100. Alario (105.22), Kramaric (112.25) and Silva (117.88) are way off the pace of the superstar duo.

    The main takeaway from all of this is Haaland has been sensational over the past 12 months.

  • Spot-on Pereira punishes Wolves, more Yorkshire gains for Kane - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts Spot-on Pereira punishes Wolves, more Yorkshire gains for Kane - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

    Willy Boly had an eventful derby and there was a penalty double for Matheus Pereira as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce maintained his unbeaten record against the team he used to support as a boy.

    Albion claimed a huge victory in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League at Molineux on Saturday, beating bitter rivals Wolves 3-2.

    There was no such entertainment at Anfield on Sunday, with a hugely hyped clash between Liverpool and leaders Manchester United ending goalless, while Antonee Robinson's red card was costly as Fulham were beaten by Chelsea.

    Ilkay Gundogan matched his best Manchester City goal tally for a season in a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace, while Tottenham captain Harry Kane made his mark in Yorkshire yet again 

    With the help of Opta data, we take a look at some of the quirkiest stats from the top-flight action over the weekend.

     

    Boly in thick of the action as Wolves pay the penalty 

    West Brom ended an eight-match winless run to claim three precious points against their big rivals Wolves.

    Defender Boly became the first Wolves player to concede a penalty, provide an assist and score in a Premier League game since Adlene Guedioura in May 2011 - which was also against West Brom at Molineux.

    Baggies midfielder Pereira was on target with two spot-kicks, becoming the fifth player to score a brace of penalties in a top-flight game this season. The last time there were so many penalty doubles was back in the 2010-11 campaign.

    Allardyce was a Wolves fan as a youngster, but his allegiances have long gone out of the window, as the Albion head coach has not lost in 12 Premier League games against Wanderers - his longest unbeaten streak against any side.

     

    Gun firing on all cylinders

    Kevin De Bruyne sparkled once again as in-form City hammered Palace to go second in the table.

    The midfield maestro laid on one of two goals for John Stones, taking his tally of assists for City to a landmark 100.

    Gundogan is another midfielder who has caught the eye this season and the Germany international was on target with a sublime long-range finish at the Etihad Stadium.

    The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker has scored four goals in his past six Premier League games, as many as he could muster in his previous 55 matches in the top flight. His tally of six for the season is the joint-most he has scored for City.

     

    Kane comes up smelling of White Roses again

    Prolific Spurs skipper Kane led by example yet again in a 3-1 win at bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.

    Kane scored his 19th goal of what is proving to be another outstanding season in Tottenham's first league win at Bramall Lane since 1975, having failed to secure maximum points in their previous seven visits.

    England captain Kane has scored in each of his past six Premier League games in Yorkshire, a run that former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka was the last to achieve in 2003.

    Leeds will have to be wary of the talismanic striker when Jose Mourinho's men return to the White Rose county for a clash at Elland Road on May 8.

     

    Dire States: Rash Robinson costs Fulham

    Fulham full-back Robinson was sent off late in the first half of the London derby at Craven Cottage for a rash lunge on Cesar Azpilicueta.

    Chelsea had to be patient as they pushed for a winner, but Mason Mount struck to consign Scott Parker's relegation-threatened side to a 1-0 defeat.

    Robinson was the eighth player from the United States to be given his marching orders in the Premier League.

    The former Wigan Athletic left-back's dismissal also made Fulham the first club to have two players from the USA see red, Carlos Bocanegra being the other.

  • Phil Neville appointed at Inter Miami after leaving England post Phil Neville appointed at Inter Miami after leaving England post

    Inter Miami have confirmed the appointment of former England Women boss Phil Neville as their new head coach.

    Neville is heading to the United States to continue his coaching career, joining up with ex-Manchester United team-mate David Beckham at the MLS franchise.

    Previous coach Diego Alonso left after taking charge for the team's inaugural season; they finished 10th in the Eastern Conference before losing to Nashville in the play-in round of the playoffs.

    As well as bringing in Neville, Inter Miami have also announced Chris Henderson as their new chief soccer officer and sporting director.

    "I am incredibly delighted for this opportunity to coach Inter Miami and to work with Chris and the entire ownership group," said Neville, who can start his new job once he receives a work visa.

    "This is a very young club with a lot of promise and upside, and I am committed to challenging myself, my players and everyone around me to grow and build a competitive soccer culture we can all be proud of.

    "This fantastic soccer-loving market deserves consistent performances and a winning mentality, and I look forward to getting to work."

    The Football Association (FA) confirmed earlier on Monday that Neville had stood down from his England post with immediate effect.

    Co-owner Beckham believes Neville's experiences as both a player and a coach can help Inter Miami to success on the field, describing his long-time friend as a "natural leader".

    "I have known Phil since we were both teenagers at the Manchester United academy. We share a footballing DNA having been trained by some of the best leaders in the game, and it's those values that I have always wanted running through our club," he said in a statement.

    "Phil has deep experience in football, as a player and as a coach at both club and international level, and over his career he has worked with many of the finest managers and players in the game.

    "I know his qualities as a person, his decency, loyalty and honesty - and his incredible energy and work ethic. Anyone who has played or worked with Phil knows he is a natural leader, and I believe now is the right time for him to join."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.