Zidane on Real Madrid injury problems: It is not easy to manage this squad

By Sports Desk April 30, 2021

Zinedine Zidane is frustrated by Real Madrid's injury problems and admitted it is not easy rotating his side between matches.

Defender Dani Carvajal suffered another injury setback this week, just three games into his comeback, and is now expected to miss the rest of the season.

Carvajal joins Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde on the sidelines, but skipper Sergio Ramos is back in training and could feature against Osasuna on Saturday.

Madrid face another tight turnaround in fixtures, with the LaLiga clash against Osasuna followed four days later by a Champions League semi-final second leg with Chelsea.

Zidane has suggested he will not rest any key players this weekend, though, as draw specialists Madrid seek just a second win in six matches in all competitions.

"As a coach, of course I am very frustrated with the relapses," Zidane said at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I want my players healthy. I never want them injured, not even the smallest issue. When one relapses two or three times, I am not happy. But we have to always look forward.

"I can't explain the number of setbacks. All teams have had problems. With the issues we've had, getting to this point and still being in contention means a lot.

"I'm very happy with the players' character and what we have got out of them. We all believe in what we do, each one of us, and that is fundamental.

"It's not easy to manage a squad like Madrid's. Everyone has an opinion but inside it's not easy. It's my job and I do my best. It's a rare year and we will continue to fight.

"Not everyone will be able to play tomorrow, but we cannot think about Wednesday before tomorrow. Whatever happens, in life, you have to think about doing it well tomorrow. 

"This is what we are going to do - go out with the best possible team to win the three points. If you think differently, you don't reach all of your targets."

Madrid's issues could be compounded for their trip to Chelsea next week as Marcelo has been called up to monitor a polling station during local elections a day before the match, which is poised at 1-1.

However, Zidane has indicated that the experienced defender will still be part of Los Blancos' travelling party next week.

"It is what it is," Zidane said. "He is going to fulfil his obligations, but nothing changes. He will still be with us on Wednesday."

Madrid have drawn two of their last three league games, but their hopes of retaining the LaLiga title were boosted on Thursday with Barcelona's shock home loss to Granada.

Zidane's side are level on points with Barca and are only two behind leaders Atletico Madrid, with fourth-placed Sevilla just a point further back.

Los Blancos have won their last 10 games against Osasuna in LaLiga, scoring an average of 3.3 goals per game, but Zidane is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

"The league is always complicated," he said. "That will be the case right until the end. We cannot focus only on the defeats of our rivals - we have to look at ourselves.

"We want to win the league and will try until the end, but we can only think about tomorrow.

"We are in the mix, fighting. We are focused on the day-to-day and are preparing for the match. We are near the end of the season and we are concentrating on this.

"There are three points to play for and we are going to do everything to win them."

Related items

  • Neymar deal demonstrates PSG's ambition, says Pochettino Neymar deal demonstrates PSG's ambition, says Pochettino

    Paris Saint-Germain have reinforced their ambitions with the new four-year deal signed by superstar forward Neymar, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

    After months of speculation, Neymar finally committed his future to PSG on Saturday.

    The world's most expensive footballer joined the club in 2017 and has helped them to three successive Ligue 1 titles, two Coupe de France triumphs and the Coupe de la Ligue twice.

    However, Neymar has been unable to propel PSG to Champions League glory, while his attempts to win the Ballon d'Or – often cited as one of the major factors behind his big-money move from Barcelona – have also proved fruitless so far.

    Nevertheless, tying the 29-year-old down to a new contract has been a priority for PSG, who are also hoping to secure the long-term future of Kylian Mbappe. Links to Lionel Messi are sure to continue too, unless the Argentine superstar commits himself to Barca.

    "It shows the ambitions this football club have," Pochettino declared ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with Rennes in Ligue 1, which comes five days after a Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester City.

    "Not just for the present but also for the future. That shows everyone how this club thinks about the future, trying to improve and win, which is the main goal, even when we are in a complicated situation as we are now."

    Pochettino also conceded his main task is to blend together the supreme individual talents he has at his disposal, adding: "The PSG family is happy for extending the contract of a player like Neymar.

    "Our challenge is, with all the talent our players have, to play as a team. To put their talent in service for the whole team, to use their individual talent to improve the team as a collective.

    "That is our challenge for the future. It is always easier to build up the future of your team with a player like Neymar, who is committed to stay here much longer."

    NEYMAR AT PSG – BY THE NUMBERS

    Neymar has made 112 appearances for PSG, scoring 85 goals.

    His tally of 45 assists means he has registered 130 goal involvements, though that is some way short of the 182 Mbappe has managed since arriving from Monaco.

    Mbappe does, however, take more minutes per goal involvement, scoring or assisting every 71 minutes in Ligue 1, while Neymar either scores or assists every 68 minutes, which is the best rate in the competition since Opta began recording such data in the 2006-07 season.

    Neymar has also been crucial in the Champions League for PSG, albeit several untimely injuries have, in previous seasons, coincided with the French champions falling out of the tournament in the knockout stages.

    Of the 65 matches Neymar has scored in across all competitions, PSG have only lost three times – against Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue in January 2019, Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in February 2020 and Lorient in Ligue 1 in January 2021.

  • Aguer-woe! Sergio apologises for fluffed Panenka in Man City's defeat to Chelsea Aguer-woe! Sergio apologises for fluffed Panenka in Man City's defeat to Chelsea

    Sergio Aguero has apologised to Manchester City's supporters after his dismal penalty in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea. 

    Pep Guardiola's side would have wrapped up the Premier League title with victory over the Blues in a rehearsal of this month's Champions League final. 

    They would have been well on their way to sealing a third championship in four seasons had Aguero – who will leave City at the end of the season – added a swift second to Raheem Sterling's breakthrough strike on the stroke of half-time. 

    Yet City's record goalscorer got it all wrong.

    His tame Panenka attempt from 12 yards was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy, with Chelsea subsequently roaring back to seal all three points through Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso. 

    City have now failed to score more penalties (four) than any other side in the Premier League this season, while they are the first side to miss at least four spot-kicks in consecutive top-flight seasons since Tottenham in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

    Writing on Twitter, Aguero said: "I would like to apologise to my team-mates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty. It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility."

    Guardiola refused to be too critical, saying: "Always I say to the player in the penalties, take one decision. Panenka, right, left, short, whatever you want, but commit.

    "He was committed. If he misses it, he misses it. Everyone is disappointed but the first disappointment is for him."

    Including his spot-kick, Aguero had two attempts on Saturday, while also creating two chances, albeit one of those came with his seemingly inadvertent assist for Sterling's opener – the 32-year-old taking a heavy touch when presented with a gaping goal.

    He registered 23 touches in total, the lowest of any City outfield player to start the match, but did complete all 11 of his passes before making way for Phil Foden in the 70th minute.

  • Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane and Thiago keep Reds in hunt for Champions League Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane and Thiago keep Reds in hunt for Champions League

    Liverpool kept themselves in the hunt for a top-four Premier League finish as they earned a 2-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

    Sadio Mane's 31st-minute header and a late Thiago Alcantara strike - his first for the club - proved the difference as the hosts ensured their slim hopes of clinching Champions League qualification remain alive.

    The Saints, meanwhile, failed to make themselves mathematically safe from relegation as they suffered defeat, though with 10 points separating them from 18th-placed Fulham, it is highly unlikely they will be dragged into the mix.

    Liverpool's last two outings - 1-1 draws against Leeds United and Newcastle United - were largely defined by a failure to take their opportunities, rather than any issues creating them.

    And Jurgen Klopp could have been forgiven for worrying that a familiar pattern was once again emerging as his team missed chance after chance in the opening 25 minutes.

    Mohamed Salah was guilty of twice finding Fraser Forster's gloves when he might have done better, while Diogo Jota and Mane each shot over from good positions.

    And when Alisson did brilliantly to close the angle on a Che Adams one-on-one created by Nathan Tella just after Georginio Wijnaldum hit the bar, it looked like the Reds were in for another forgettable outing.

    However, from the resulting attack, Liverpool went ahead, Salah sending in an inswinging cross that Mane simply could not fail to head home from close range.

    The fragility of that lead was underlined before the break when Tella headed straight at Alisson with the goal at his mercy, and the Brazilian needed to show sharp reactions again to deny substitute Michael Obafemi just past the hour mark as the Saints pushed.

    Clearly enjoying his starring role, the goalkeeper even gave himself another huge stop to make as he passed the ball to the feet of Adams before getting down to block the subsequent shot.

    A nervous finish could have been avoided had Mane stayed onside before lashing home a recycled ball beyond Forster late in the second half, but the hosts wrapped things up in the 90th minute through Thiago's low finish from the edge of the box.

    What does it mean? Reds still in top-four running

    Chelsea may well be out of reach for Liverpool as they look to sneak into the Champions League places late in the season, but Klopp's squad have every reason to believe they can catch Leicester City.

    The fading Foxes are now just six points ahead of the Reds having played a game more and must take on Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their final three games.

    Alisson the hero

    It always felt like Liverpool's goalkeeper could be in for a busy game with such an inexperienced centre-back pairing ahead of him, Nathaniel Phillips partnering Rhys Williams in defence.

    But the Brazilian was more than up to the task, with almost all of his six saves across the 90 minutes coming in situations where the opposing player looked the clear favourite to win the duel.

    Wijnaldum toils

    A Liverpool team that has prided itself on midfield solidity in recent years lacked that for large periods of this game, and the typically reliable Wijnaldum cannot escape his share of the blame for that.

    The Dutchman made just 41 passes, zero tackles and zero interceptions in an anonymous showing that perhaps shows why Klopp might be willing to let him go this summer.

    What's next?

    Southampton are back in action as early as Tuesday when they host Crystal Palace, while Liverpool head to Old Trafford on Thursday in order to fulfil their postponed meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.