While Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Porto have already secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages, some big names are in danger of a shock elimination.

After making history by leading Real Madrid to three straight Champions League titles during his first stint as head coach, Zinedine Zidane is on the verge of another first that could well place his future at the club in serious jeopardy.

Inter are also fighting for their future in the competition, as are Atletico Madrid and semi-finalists from the past two campaigns Ajax and Atalanta.

Ahead of what is sure to be a thrilling finale to the group stage, we take a look at the best stats courtesy of Opta.

 

Midtjylland v Liverpool: A first in reach for Reds

Jurgen Klopp's men are already guaranteed to finish top of Group D but victory over bottom side Midtjylland will see them register five wins in a single Champions League group stage for the first time.

Their form on matchday six in the competition is strong too. They have triumphed in each of their past three final group stage matches by an aggregate score of 10-0.

Taking three points would see the Reds become just the third Premier League side, after Chelsea in 2003-04 and Manchester United in 2010-11, to win all three of their away games in the group stage.

Should Caoimhin Kelleher be given another opportunity between the posts, he could become the first Liverpool goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in their first two Champions League starts.

Salzburg v Atletico Madrid: Shoot-out for progression

Atletico will be looking to avoid just a second exit at this stage in their eighth campaign in the competition under Diego Simeone.

They will need to be wary of Salzburg forward Mergim Berisha, who has scored four goals in as many Champions League starts for the club this season – only Erling Haaland (eight in 2019-20) has scored more for the Austrian side in a single campaign in Europe's premier club competition.

Enock Mwepu will be another threat for the visitors, having attempted six shots and created four chances in Salzburg's 3-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow last time out.

Ahead of matchday six, only two players had been directly involved in more shots in a Champions League game this season – Lionel Messi and Munir El Haddad played a part in 11 against Ferencvaros and Krasnodar respectively.

Real Madrid v Borussia Monchengladbach: Blancos on the brink

A win will see Zidane's struggling Madrid into the knockout rounds and avoid the ignominy of suffering their first Champions League group stage exit after 28 consecutive progressions.

The drop-off this season can be seen in the fact their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last time out was Madrid's fourth in their past seven matches in the competition – they only lost five of their first 39 Champions League games under Zidane (W25 D9).

Goals should be expected at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, with the previous five meetings between the teams seeing 20 goals scored with 10 apiece.

Gladbach just need to avoid defeat to advance and some game time for Alassane Plea would likely help them achieve that; he has been directly involved in eight goals (five scored, three assisted) in his five Champions League appearances at an average of one every 45 minutes.

Inter v Shakhtar Donetsk: Conte's San Siro woe

Failure to win against high-flying Shakhtar at San Siro will see Inter bow out at the group stage for a third consecutive season. Before this run, they had advanced from 11 of their 12 pool appearances (including the second group stage) in the competition.

Shakhtar may have beaten Madrid twice but they have a goal difference of minus seven; the only teams to have advanced with such a record after five games are Galatasaray in 2013-14 and Atalanta in 2019-20.

Inter will therefore be hoping Romelu Lukaku can help get them over the line. The Belgium striker has played a role in 17 goals in his 15 European matches for the Nerazzurri, including scoring a double in a 5-0 success over the Ukrainian side in last season's Europa League semi-final.

A strong performance from Lukaku would go a significant way to ensuring Antonio Conte does not become the first Inter coach to oversee a Champions League group stage campaign without a home win.

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Atalanta

2 - Ajax are unbeaten in their last seven games against Italian opponents in the Champions League, but five of these have ended in draws. They must win to reach the last 16.

4 - Atalanta went winless at home in the Champions League group stage this season (D2 L1), yet will qualify for the knockout rounds if they avoid defeat here. It will be just the fourth time a team has picked up as little as two points at home in a group stage and still qualified for the next round, after Roma in 2002-03 and Milan in both 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Bayern Munich v Lokomotiv Moscow

13 - Bayern drew 1-1 against Atletico in their most recent Champions League outing – the first time they failed to win in the competition under Hansi Flick after he oversaw 12 straight victories.

1 - Lokomotiv have drawn both of their away games in the Champions League this season and have never previously gone unbeaten away from home in a single season in the competition.

Manchester City v Marseille

16 – If City beat Marseille they will have accrued 16 points in the Champions League group stage this season, the joint-most of any English side in a single campaign along with Arsenal in 2005-06 (finalists), Manchester United in 2007-08 (winners), and Tottenham in 2017-18 (last 16).

8 - Marseille have lost each of their past seven away games in the Champions League and another defeat here would see them record their worst ever losing run on the road in the competition.

Olympiacos v Porto

100 - Olympiacos have won all three of their home Champions League matches against Porto, in three successive seasons between 1997 and 1999 – it is their best 100 per cent record on their own patch against any side in the competition.

4 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in four consecutive Champions League matches since conceding three goals away to Manchester City in October – the last side to record five or more consecutive shutouts in the competition was Juventus in 2016-17. Manchester City are also on a run of four.

Casemiro has made clear Real Madrid's squad are firmly behind Zinedine Zidane as they aim to avoid a hugely embarrassing Champions League exit. 

Madrid have become accustomed to success in Europe's premier club competition under Zidane, having lifted the trophy three times during his first spell in charge. 

However, the reigning LaLiga champions were dumped out at the last-16 stage last season, going down 4-2 on aggregate to Manchester City, and are in serious danger of failing to make it out of their group for the first time ever.

Los Blancos sit third in the table going into the final round of fixtures, when they will play host to leaders Borussia Monchengladbach in the Spanish capital on Wednesday. 

Having also faltered in the early stages of their title defence, Zidane's future has come into serious question – and missing out on the knockout rounds would only increase speculation he could be set for the sack. 

Midfielder Casemiro, however, insists the under-pressure head coach retains the faith of his players.

"What am I going to say about Zidane? He has made history, last year he won two trophies. Many times, we don't realise what Zidane has done," the Brazil international said. 

"The season is strange, it's true. The pre-season was not good and playing every two or three days is difficult.  

"The team is with the coach. And I value what he has done and what he is doing." 

Madrid have only lost one of their previous five meetings with Gladbach in European competition, albeit three of those fixtures have ended in draws. 

Zidane has only failed to make it out of the group stage once in his entire career, back in 2000 when he played for Juventus. Casemiro is confident Madrid will not suffer a similar fate this season, as they prepare for the game as if it were a final. 

"We know that tomorrow is the most important game of the year," he told the media. "We all know that tomorrow is a final. We have to face it as if it were a final. 

"We've been taught at this club that you don't play finals, you win them. We're not thinking about anything other than winning. 

"We know there is a good opponent and they're top of the group, so we have to respect that. But, we're going out to win." 

As for Gladbach, the Bundesliga club are looking to reach the Champions League knockout phase for the first time at the third attempt, having previously failed to do so in 2015-16 and 2016-17. 

Zinedine Zidane is only concerned about Champions League qualification, rather than his own future, ahead of Real Madrid's pivotal clash with Borussia Monchengladbach. 

The Spanish side face the distinct prospect of missing out on qualifying for the last-16 stage of the competition after a 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last week saw them slump to third place in Group B. 

Madrid's loss was their second in the competition this season - they have never lost three times in a single group stage.

Their worrying lack of form in Europe had coincided with a tricky start to their LaLiga title defence too, though the pressure on Zidane was eased somewhat by Saturday's 1-0 win away at Sevilla. 

Still, the Frenchman knows the importance of Wednesday's home game against Gladbach, who start the final round of fixtures sitting pretty in top spot.

"It is a different game because we know the situation," Zidane told the media.   

"We want to add the three points and finish the round on top [of the group]. We have all that in mind. All the games are important, but it is a good opportunity to show what we are as a team." 

Asked if he feared for his job if they fail to make it through, he replied: "The club will do what it has to do, as always. I only think about Wednesday's game." 

There remains the prospect of Madrid dropping into the Europa League if they finish in their current position, though Zidane insists his players are used to the pressure that comes with playing for the club. 

"I don't think about the Europa League, I don't contemplate anything else. The players are the same. You [the media] can think and give your opinion, it's your job. We only think about playing a great game," Zidane said. 

"All the players and the club are used to playing under pressure. We are used to playing games like this. We know what is at stake.  

"We have to manage our emotions and above all prepare things well. The important thing is that inside we prepare the game well."

In his 13 seasons in the Champions League as both a player and manager, Zidane has only been eliminated at the group stage once, which was with Juventus back in 2000.

Gladbach know a draw will be good enough to send them through to the knockout stages, while Shakhtar and Inter also remain in with a chance of progressing from a tightly contested group.

Thursday was a day to savour for Gareth Bale, as he scored his 200th career goal, 57 of which have come for Tottenham.

It was his first goal in Europe for Spurs since March 2013 against Inter and his first away from home (excluding qualifiers) since that famous hat-trick against the Nerazzurri back in October 2010.

Performances like that led Bale on the path to becoming the first €100million player, but despite his goal in the 3-3 draw with LASK, today's Bale is a very different animal.

He returned to north London on loan after being consigned to the role of wearied Real Madrid substitute under Zinedine Zidane, but his second spell in the Premier League has barely caused a ripple.

In fact, as in-form Spurs prepare for Sunday's derby with Arsenal, Bale has once more settled into the role of expensive bench-warmer, an impact player who is yet to make any discernible impact upon Jose Mourinho's plans.

LASK-LUSTRE

Bale would surely relish the chance to be unleashed against Arsenal – after all, he has scored five goals in 10 league appearances against the Gunners, and there are concerns about the fitness of Harry Kane.

However, given Mourinho's comments about his players lacking "enthusiasm" for this week's Europa League match, some of the starting XI in Austria could be fighting a losing battle to keep their places.

Bale converted Spurs' first penalty of the match to get on the scoresheet for the second time in his second stint at the club, but his was not a display to capture the imagination. While he attempted more shots than anyone else (four), his penalty was the only one to hit the target. Moreover, he created no chances for his team-mates and only completed 14 passes in his 82 minutes on the pitch, fewer than any other starting Spurs player apart from Tanguy Ndombele (12) and Lucas Moura (nine) – and they were both substituted 17 minutes earlier.

Bale has started once in the Premier League and five times in the Europa League this season and been taken off every time. While fitness was perhaps an excuse in the first few weeks after his arrival in September, surely now he should be expected to play in, and influence, a full game.

NOT-SO-SPLENDID ISOLATION

Bale always seemed like an opportune gamble rather than a signing to suit a Mourinho system, and so it has proved.

Compared with his team-mates in the Premier League, the 31-year-old has done little to justify more game time, even including his winning goal against Brighton and Hove Albion on November 1.

Bale averages close to five shots per 90 minutes, which is actually the most of any Spurs player this term, but his conversion rate of 16.7 per cent is only fifth best. Kane (18 per cent) and Son Heung-min in particular (45 per cent) are significantly more threatening from shooting positions.

His link-up play is of greater concern. In his three league games, Bale has created only two chances from open play, half as many as Giovani Lo Celso and way down on Son (11) and Kane (19). Overall, he has completed 20 passes, the fewest of any Spurs player to make a league appearance with the exception of Carlos Vinicius, who has played 12 minutes.

Bale does at least attempt three dribbles on average per 90 minutes, more than all but two of his team-mates, but he has yet to attempt a single cross from open play. If these runs with the ball do not end in a hopeful shot, they appear to yield nothing.

His level of disconnect from the rest of his team is even greater than it was at Madrid last season. In 16 LaLiga games, Bale attempted 45 open-play crosses, averaging nearly four per 90 minutes. He also attempted roughly three dribbles and nearly 36 passes per appearance.

 

SHOULD SPURS HAVE SEEN THIS COMING?

Mourinho, then, has little reason to thrust Bale into the starting line-up of a Spurs side presently looking one of the best in England's top flight and on a six-game unbeaten run in home league clashes with Arsenal. Recent history would also suggest the Wales star will not seize a more regular role heading towards 2021, either.

Only once since the 2015-16 season has Bale started more than half of all matches across all competitions (he was in the line-up 51 per cent of the time in 2018-19). That season, he made 42 appearances for Madrid; in 2019-20, that number dropped by more than half (20), while he only started 14 times, or 27.5 per cent of all games.

This term, prior to Thursday's Europa League match he started 27.8 per cent of matches and had been involved in 39 per cent overall (seven appearances), effectively the same portion as he managed last season. However, in the league, he has only played in 30 per cent of Spurs' games (three) and started just once. Even in 2019-20, as rumours of discontent with Zidane grew and images of Bale yawning among the substitutes spread, he still managed to play in 42 per cent of Madrid's league matches (16) and started 12 times (31.6 per cent).

Bale's best recent season for league games was in 2014-15, when he started 30 times (79 per cent) and made a further appearance as a substitute. He has scarcely got close to that level of involvement since. And although injury problems and issues with Zidane have been partly to blame, a fully fit Bale should realistically walk into Tottenham's team if he had the form to back up the expectations. Mourinho, at least, appears unconvinced.

A goal against Arsenal would certainly boost his prospects, but, right now, Bale looks little more than a luxury (and dispensable) accessory to a well-oiled Spurs machine.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane revelled in the struggling LaLiga champions' "hugely important" win over Sevilla as the under-fire boss celebrated a timely victory.

Madrid snapped a run of back-to-back losses with a 1-0 success away to Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday, alleviating some pressure on Zidane.

Zidane's position at the helm has been questioned following defeats to Deportivo Alaves and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, but Yassine Bounou's 55th-minute own goal gifted the Frenchman some respite.

The result moved Madrid within six points of leaders Atletico Madrid, though Real Sociedad could return to the summit and open up a seven-point advantage ahead of Los Blancos if they beat Alaves on Sunday.

"It's important," Zidane said during his post-match news conference. "The recent days have been difficult and this team is full of character, it thrives on challenges and this win is hugely important for what is to come."

Madrid kept a clean sheet in consecutive LaLiga away games against Sevilla for the second time in the competition's history – the first one was in 1967.

Zidane's Madrid have not lost any of their 25 LaLiga games with Ferland Mendy in the starting XI since last season, compared with their six defats in their 24 league games without the full-back.

Bounou also became the only goalkeeper to score an own goal in LaLiga this season and the first Sevilla shot-stopper to score an own goal in the competition in the 21st century.

Zidane, who has won eight games against Sevilla in all competitions – more than any other opponent – added: "They're three hugely important points for us but beyond just the points, it's about our performance. From the first minute until the last. We had to dig in a bit in the second half but we were superb before the break, creating a load of chances. 

"It's a deserved victory over a very good side who we know can cause you problems at any moment. We've come through it and I'm thrilled for the lads.

"We haven't changed because the team was fine and wanted to keep going as we are. It's important for the next game.

"It was crucial that we picked up points today and to perform well. We're going through a bit of a tough spell lately and we have to be happy. Now it's time to rest up well and think about what's to come."

"This team has got a lot of character," Zidane continued. "I don't think the same way as you, but it's true that there are moments when playing every three days at a high level, from time to time it's difficult for us. In the end that will always happen to us because we never stop.

"The important thing is to recover well and switch out focus to the next game because this isn't going to slow up. Every match is going to be important for us and we know that from time to time things won't go our way and we have to correct some things. When we fix things we can be very competitive like today."

Zinedine Zidane could breathe a sigh of relief as an own goal from Yassine Bounou gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Sevilla.

Madrid’s head coach has come under mounting pressure after an unsteady start to the season in LaLiga and in the Champions League.

His side carved out plenty of chances to beat Sevilla comfortably but could not find a decisive finish, until the home side's goalkeeper ran out of luck in the second half.

Ferland Mendy's low cross looked sure to be turned home by Vinicius Junior, but he made only the slightest of connections and the ball deflected in off Bounou, with Thibaut Courtois' late save from Lucas Ocampos at the other end securing a valuable victory.

Bruised by a midweek defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk that has put Madrid in a European pickle, Zidane needed a reprieve going up against former Los Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

Madrid spurned a glorious first-minute chance when Rodrygo found Vinicius unmarked in the penalty area, but a low shot towards the far corner bounced just wide.

Bounou then almost gifted Madrid an opener when his attempted clearance rattled against Vinicius and looped across goal.

Karim Benzema was waiting to nod in from close range but was beaten to the ball by defender Diego Carlos, who cushioned a header to the relieved Bounou.

Toni Kroos and Benzema went close before the break, but Sevilla's resistance was ended on the 55th-minute mark.

Benzema's clever pass picked out Mendy on the left, and his low centre should have been ideal for Vinicius but turned out to be far from it for Bounou.

His head-in-hands moment made Bounou the first Sevilla goalkeeper to score an own goal in LaLiga in the 21st century.

Suso went close to a spectacular equaliser but sent his shot just too high, with Courtois thankful to see it zip off target, before Madrid's goalkeeper saved well from Ocampos' acrobatic volley to seal the points.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has been left of their squad for the LaLiga clash with Sevilla on Saturday. 

The defender has returned to training following the hamstring injury he sustained while on international duty with Spain in November. 

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, however, had told a media conference prior to the squad announcement on Friday that the 34-year-old would only make the trip if he was fully fit. 

"We're not going to take any chances with Sergio Ramos," Zidane said. 

"I don't want to play a player who has a problem and then he makes it worse. We want all the players back". 

Without Ramos, Madrid have drawn 1-1 with Villareal and lost 2-1 to Deportivo Alaves in league action.

In the Champions League, Zidane's side managed a 2-0 away win over Inter but suffered a defeat by the same scoreline at Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, putting their progression to the knockout stages in the balance. 

Serbia striker Luka Jovic is also not included by Zidane, despite having recently recorded a negative test for COVID-19. He had a positive test while away with his national team, requiring him to spend a period in isolation.

Madrid sit fourth in LaLiga on 17 points - seven behind leaders Real Sociedad and six behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who they face in the derby next weekend.

Under-fire Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is convinced he retains the full support of the club and his players amid a difficult run of results.

Madrid head to Sevilla on Saturday having failed to win any of their previous three LaLiga matches, suffering losses to Valencia and Deportivo Alaves either side of a draw with Villarreal.

Los Blancos have never endured a winless run of four league games under Zidane, and the champions are already seven points adrift of pacesetters Real Sociedad – though arguably the greater concern is second-place Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone's men are unbeaten this term and, although a point behind La Real, they have two games in hand on them and one on their city rivals.

Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk increased the pressure on Zidane as their Champions League progression hopes were left hanging in the balance, but the Frenchman continues to put on a brave face.

When asked if he felt he had the club's backing, he told reporters: "Yes, completely, I feel the support of the club. I can't be happy when we lose a game, but we know where we are.

"We are lucky to fight for this club and that's what I'm going to do until the last day, and the players too. We have to be together with what we know how to do."

Zidane was then asked if the players have given him their backing, which seemed to irk the former France international.

"In the end, you guys [the media] always try these things, asking whether the players are with me or not," he replied. "What the players want is to compete and they have always shown their care for me, but it is not the most important thing.

"I have been a player here, coach, I know the history I have with this club and sometimes it is true that things do not work out for us.

"[Criticism] doesn't bother me. It's my position, it's what it is, when you don't win it's like that, it's normal for there to be criticism, but it won't change what I think. We will continue."

Traditionally, Madrid do well against Sevilla – Los Blancos have beaten them 19 times in their previous 30 LaLiga meetings, while Zidane has not claimed more wins against any other opponent across all competitions than he has over the Andalusians (seven).

Nevertheless, Europa League holders Sevilla – coached by former Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui – are likely to be fresh having rested many first-team regulars during the 4-0 Champions League defeat to Chelsea.

They are also unbeaten in 15 league games at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, keeping seven clean sheets in their past 10 home games, and will move above Madrid with a win.

But Lopetegui remains wary of Madrid, suggesting their difficult form might make them even more threatening this weekend.

"Real Madrid are always dangerous, and even more so in these situations," he said. "They're a team that have answers for many situations and now that feeds into them to give a good performance. I'm expecting a strong Real Madrid, who will demand the best version of us."

Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Zinedine Zidane is a "magnificent coach" who has earned the right to stay on and turn things around at Real Madrid, according to club icon Iker Casillas.

The Frenchman's future at the Santiago Bernabeu has been called into question on the back of one win in five matches in all competitions.

Madrid have won half of their 10 LaLiga matches and are down in fourth, while their hopes of progressing to the last 16 of the Champions League hang in the balance.

A horror 2-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk left Zidane's men third in Group B and needing to beat Borussia Monchengladbach on matchday six next week to guarantee progression.

Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint in charge and won a second LaLiga title last term.

Amid growing rumours the 48-year-old is close to being sacked by president Florentino Perez, Casillas believes his former team-mate has done enough to warrant more trust.

"Zizou is a magnificent coach, a good friend and will do everything possible to have Madrid as high up as possible," he told AS.

"You cannot live in the past, but he has earned the right for trust."

Sergio Ramos is another who faces an uncertain period in the Spanish capital, with the long-serving defender's contract due to expire at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain are reported to have offered Ramos a big-money contract, but Casillas is hopeful Madrid's captain will stay put.

"Sergio is an emblem of Real Madrid and it is best if he is in Madrid," he said.

Goalkeeping great Casillas announced his retirement in August, having not played a game since suffering a heart attack in training with Porto on May 1 last year.

He has previously talked up the prospect of returning to Madrid, the club he made 725 appearances for after emerging through their youth ranks, in an advisory role.

Speaking upon picking up an award for his sporting achievements, Casillas reiterated he considers Madrid to be his "home".

"This is an award for my whole career, for many years," he said. "Along that path I have to thank many people that I had with me, not forgetting my coaches, all my team-mates, the sacrifice of my parents and the clubs I have had.

"Real Madrid, which is my home and the club that gave me another opportunity to discover another way of life, and also Porto and the national team."

Is Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge of Real Madrid coming to an end?

Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint, and last season's LaLiga crown after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

But the Los Blancos great is under mounting pressure amid the club's struggles this season.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE IN DANGER

Mauricio Pochettino and Raul are waiting in the wings to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Madrid head coach Zidane is in danger of losing his job following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Los Blancos have suffered back-to-back defeats and three in their past five outings across all competitions to be seven points adrift in LaLiga and on the cusp of Champions League elimination.

Thursday's Mundo Deportivo, Diario AS and Sport report former Tottenham boss Pochettino and Madrid Castilla coach Raul are eyeing the hot seat.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims the race to sign Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is down to Madrid and Manchester United. Serie A champions Juventus had also been linked, though there has been talk of Paul Pogba returning to Turin after leaving for Old Trafford in 2016.

- Bayern Munich star David Alaba is hoping to strike a January agreement with Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano's 'Here We Go Podcast'. Alaba is a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Juventus have shown an interest in Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, according to Calciomercato. Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic are also on the shortlist.

Madrid are eyeing Benfica forward Darwin Nunez, reports Calciomercato. The Uruguay international has also caught the attention of LaLiga rivals Barca.

- What does the future hold for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? Heavily linked to United, Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and even Barca, Calciomercato says Juve are monitoring the Norwegian closely.

Zinedine Zidane vowed he would not quit as Real Madrid head coach after a shattering defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk left their Champions League campaign in chaos.

Madrid slumped to third place in Group B after a 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar – the Ukrainian side that also beat the LaLiga champions in the Spanish capital in October.

Amid deteriorating domestic form, the Champions League had been the salvation for Madrid in November, as they beat Inter home and away.

But now pressure will mount on Zidane, the club legend who was arguably the ultimate Galactico before coaching the team to three consecutive Champions League titles from 2016 to 2018.

Madrid dearly needed a positive result in Kiev, where Donetsk play their home games, but goals from substitutes Dentinho and Manor Solomon scuppered such hopes.

"I am not going to resign," Zidane said. "We have had difficult moments. This is a bad run in terms of results. It is reality, but we must continue.

"We know that today was a final and we prepared for it very well. We had a great first half, but we couldn't score.

"There is one game left and we have to win it."

There were still routes open for 13-time winners Madrid to reach the knockout stage as their players trudged off the pitch, but they were narrowing.

Madrid face group leaders Borussia Monchengladbach in the final round of group games.

LaLiga giants Madrid have reached the Champions League last 16 for 23 successive seasons, dating back to well before Zidane joined as a player.

Yet with their two defeats to Shakhtar, Madrid have now lost as many group games in this season's competition as they did under Zidane's leadership during the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2019-20 campaigns combined.

"I have strength and I will give it my all as always, like the players," Zidane said, quoted by Marca.

Madrid lost 2-1 at home to Deportivo Alaves on Saturday, and that arguably flattered Zidane's team, who trail early leaders Real Sociedad by seven points.

They had 15 shots to Shakhtar's seven on Tuesday, led the corner count 11-2 and had 58.1 per cent of possession, according to Opta.

But even in games where Madrid are dominating, they are finding it is not always enough to bring the rewards they feel should come their way.

Raphael Varane was caught out for the Shakhtar opener and the Madrid defender has made three errors that have cost goals in this calendar year, which at full-time in Kiev was more than any other player had committed in the competition.

Madrid have shipped nine goals in five games – the most they have ever conceded at this stage in the group phase of the competition.

"In the league we didn't deserve to win the other day, but today we did," Zidane said, looking for positives.

"We have to lift our heads and think about the next game. We are going to believe and we are going to fight."

Zinedine Zidane has acknowledged Eden Hazard is experiencing a "hard time" but insists Real Madrid will do everything they can to help their record signing. 

The Belgium international has been blighted by ankle and leg problems since joining the Spanish giants from Chelsea nearly 18 months ago.

Last season he started just 14 games in LaLiga, playing a minor role as Madrid won the title in his first campaign at the club.

He has continued to struggle this term and suffered an injury to the rectus femoris muscle in his right thigh in just his third league start of the campaign against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

No timescale has been put on his return but he has not been named in Madrid's squad for Tuesday's Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Zidane said it is Madrid's responsibility to look after the 29-year-old and the Frenchman hopes the forward can return stronger than before. 

Asked at a media conference if Hazard might experience some psychological impact after yet another injury, Zidane responded: "No. Sometimes injuries happen and we have to endure. He is strong, I have no doubt. 

"He is having a hard time lately. We are going to help him to get better soon.

"It is a complicated situation for Eden. He has never been injured in his career and now has more misfortunes. He will surely come back stronger. We look forward to seeing him with us again."

Despite a largely indifferent Champions League campaign so far, which has seen them win just two of their four Group B games, Madrid can seal a last-16 spot for a record 24th time with victory against Shakhtar.

Luis Castro's side have failed to win any of their three games since beating Madrid on matchday one, but Zidane is preparing his players for what he describes as the most important game in the group. 

"It is up to us to get through," he said. "Tomorrow is another final, there are two left. It is surely the most important game because it can take us to another phase."

Since scoring the third goal in their 3-2 win over Madrid, Shakhtar have failed to score with each of their last 23 shots in the competition.

However, Los Blancos defender Nacho Fernandez still anticipates a challenging fixture in Kiev.

"We need to try to be much more attentive," he said. "They are a very fast team, very dynamic. We will try to get ahead on the scoreboard and be attentive defensively."

Zinedine Zidane said he is concerned by Real Madrid's lack of consistency following their shock defeat to Deportivo Alaves.

LaLiga champions Madrid were stunned 2-1 by visiting Alaves at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium on Saturday.

Lucas Perez's fifth-minute penalty and Joselu's goal four minutes into the second half put Alaves in control before Casemiro reduced the deficit with four minutes of regulation remaining.

Madrid had beaten Inter 2-0 in the Champions League during the week but were unable to back up that result as Los Blancos lost for the third time in their last six LaLiga matches – as many defeats as they had in their previous 42 fixtures in the competition.

It was only the second time Alaves won away to Madrid in LaLiga, having previously upstaged the Spanish and European powerhouse at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2000.

"I think that's the problem we are having at the moment. Consistency," head coach Zidane, who saw star attacker Eden Hazard hobble off in the Spanish capital, told reporters. "That's why we have to try and improve.

"We've had a lot of injuries. We're not going to try to find excuses but that's the reality.

"Hopefully we can get players back for our next game and hopefully we can improve the dynamic in the squad overall because we have to change it. In three days we've played two completely different games.

"The difference between the Inter game and today is enormous. I don't really have the words to describe what’s happened but I know we're going to analyse the game today and think about changing things for our next game."

Madrid, who have conceded at least one penalty goal in three successive LaLiga games for the first time in the 21st century, are fourth and six points off the pace as Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid both boast 23 points.

Zinedine Zidane admitted Real Madrid produced an unacceptable performance as the reigning LaLiga champions slumped to another dismal defeat.

Cadiz, Shakhtar Donetsk and Valencia had already beaten Madrid this season, which is in its infancy, and Deportivo Alaves added their name to the list of surprise conquerors across all competitions thanks to a richly deserved 2-1 win on Saturday.

There were grumbles from the Madrid camp about decisions the VAR may have given them, with penalty claims from Eden Hazard and Marcelo failing to result in spot-kicks.

But Madrid head coach Zidane was clear in his mind that his team got what they deserved from the clash at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, where the Spanish giants lost for the third time in LaLiga this term.

The losses to Cadiz and Shakhtar also came at Madrid's temporary home, which they are using while the Santiago Bernabeu is being renovated.

They were pushovers for much of Saturday's game, with Lucas Perez and Joselu giving Alaves a 2-0 lead before a familiar late Madrid rally saw Casemiro net from close range and Isco hit the top of the bar.

Conceding the early penalty that Perez tucked away made Madrid's task especially challenging, but they repeatedly looked vulnerable to Alaves' energetic, fast-paced counter-attacks.

"When you start the game like that, everything is complicated. We haven't been focused," Zidane said, speaking on Movistar LaLiga.

"We are not going to look for excuses. We played a bad game. I am the coach and I am to blame.

"We have to turn the page. On Tuesday we have another game [against Shakhtar]. We will continue working. We are going to try to change the dynamics."

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gave away the ball sloppily to gift Joselu the second for Alaves early in the second half, while Los Blancos suffered a blow when star winger Hazard had to come off just before the half-hour mark.

The former Chelsea player has been tormented by injuries in his Madrid career, but it appears that Hazard does not see his latest blow as anything serious.

"I hope and I think that Hazard's [injury] is a knock like he said and that it's not muscular," Zidane said.

Madrid sit fourth in the table, six points behind Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, with their one consolation being that rivals Barcelona have started the season even more wretchedly.

Three defeats in their last five home games across all competitions is bleak form for Madrid, given they had only lost three of their previous 31 such games.

Casemiro said Alaves finished their chances better and praised the quality of Perez and Joselu, who were outstanding as a front pairing and went close several times to stretching the visitors' lead.

The Brazilian midfielder felt Madrid should have been better served by the match officials though, saying, according to AS: "Talking about the referee after the game is not the time, the VAR is there to help."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.