Xavi made LaLiga history as Barcelona extended their unbeaten away record during his reign to 18 games, but the coach saw room for improvement in a 1-0 win at Real Mallorca.

The victory moved Xavi past Zinedine Zidane for the best unbeaten start away from home by a coach in the Spanish top flight, with the Frenchman having reached 17 games (W13 D4) in the competition without a defeat on the road in 2016 at Real Madrid.

Xavi's streak includes 13 wins and five draws, but Mallorca pushed Barcelona hard, and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to be sharp to preserve another clean sheet.

That is five consecutive shut-outs for Barcelona in LaLiga, and Saturday's victory took them to the top of LaLiga with 19 points from seven games.

Real Madrid, due to play Osasuna on Sunday, have launched their title defence with six consecutive wins and are set to have the chance to reclaim top spot.

The first Clasico of the season is just two weeks away, however, and this early-season rivalry is boiling up nicely before that meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Xavi said of his team's win, which was secured by Robert Lewandowski's ninth goal in seven league games: "It was a very complicated game. These are three very important points, especially after the [international] break.

"In games like this, if you don't score the second [goal], it can become complicated. We've done well by showing patience and calmness."

He added: "It was difficult for us. In the first half we were good, in the second [our level] went down and we can't allow that. We have to go for the second goal and be more ambitious."

 

The away run is something that Xavi takes pride in rather than shying away from, and he sees it as a step towards something more significant.

"It's an important record that hopefully translates into titles," he said. "If it translates into titles, it tastes better, but since there aren't any, it's anecdotal."

That much is true, and it might be that Barcelona need Lewandowski to stay prolific throughout the campaign if they are to topple Madrid from their perch.

"Once again he made the difference," said Xavi, who also added praise for Barcelona's defence in a game in which they were given plenty to do.

Mallorca had a higher expected goals (xG) total than Barcelona (1.0 to 0.7), reflecting the quality and number of their chances. The hosts edged the shot count 13-11 too, with Lee Kang-in going close to a late leveller.

"It was a solid game, without shining, but we took three very important points," Xavi said.

Lewandowski has reached nine goals in his LaLiga career quicker than any player in history. He might get to 10, 11, 12, and goodness knows how many more goals quicker than anybody too, such has been his smooth transition from Bayern Munich to Barcelona.

"He's a goalscorer, a top player, one of the best players in the world, if not the best," Xavi said. "In addition to scoring, there is how he works, presses, instructs others and talks to team-mates."

Roger Federer "made the whole world dream" through his tennis, French football great Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday.

The Swiss superstar contested his final match on Friday night in London, as he bowed out at the age of 41, accepting knee trouble in recent years would not allow him to carry on.

Zidane's last match as a player famously ended in a headbutt, a red card and crushing disappointment in the 2006 World Cup final, as France lost out to Italy on penalties in Berlin.

That was a far cry from the celebratory scenes at the O2 where 20-time grand slam winner Federer exited in a hail of adulation and high emotion, as the man from Basle broke down in a flood of tears on court.

The poignancy came after Federer lost alongside Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles clash with Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, a low-stakes occasion compared to Zidane's swan song.

Both Zidane and Federer played their sport with maverick and artistic tendencies that set them apart from many of their peers, while also winning a stack of trophies.

Zidane had two spells as Real Madrid boss after hanging up his boots following a playing spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he hopes there are great opportunities awaiting Federer too.

"Today you are stepping into another world. I wish you a second part of life as rich as the first," Zidane wrote on Instagram.

"Thank you Roger, you made the whole world dream! And you remained profoundly the same. Thank you Roger, the great class."

Even accounting for Chelsea's shoddy start to the Champions League, few would have expected Thomas Tuchel to be out of a job by Wednesday.

The Blues started their European campaign with a lacklustre 1-0 setback at Dinamo Zagreb, a result that follows an underwhelming trend to start the season.

With three wins, two losses and one draw from six games, the Blues sit sixth in the infant Premier League table.

Still, most would have expected Tuchel – who has won the Champions League and Club World Cup with Chelsea – to be afforded more time to bed in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly following a big-spending transfer window under the club's new owners led by Todd Boehly.

But, alas, he has not, and for the first time Chelsea are after a new boss under their new regime. We have taken a look at the most likely candidates to replace Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

The last time Chelsea were looking for a successor for a sacked manager, they turned to a former Paris Saint-Germain boss in Tuchel to replace club legend Frank Lampard. Might history repeat itself here? Certainly Pochettino would be attainable after the Argentine departed the Parc des Princes in July despite winning the Ligue 1 title. Pochettino also brings extensive knowledge of the Premier League having managed Southampton before joining Tottenham in May 2014. Pochettino failed to deliver major silverware but did lead the club to the 2019 Champions League final and secured four straight top-four finishes.

GRAHAM POTTER

A name that has cropped up early in the bookmakers' odds is Brighton and Hove Albion boss Potter, a man who has earned plenty of admirers due to the attractive brand of football employed by his Seagulls side. Having coached Swedish side Ostersund for seven years, Potter joined Swansea City in 2018 and a year later made the move to the Amex Stadium. After finishing 15th and 16th in his first two top-flight seasons, Brighton placed ninth last term and Potter has long been tipped for bigger things, with his case boosted by a fantastic start to the 2022-23 season.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

Another boss out of work, though reports suggest Zidane remains keen to take on the France job should Didier Deschamps leave after Qatar 2022. One of the greatest players of all time, Zidane has also enjoyed success in the dugout at Real Madrid. Over two spells as coach at the Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane won three Champions League titles (all in a row from 2016 to 2018), two LaLiga medals, and the Club World Cup twice among a plethora of honours. He also showed his ability to manage big egos at the Santiago Bernabeu, a trait that may appeal to Boehly.

BRENDAN RODGERS

A move that would probably represent an outside bet given Leicester City's shoddy start to the season that sees them winless after six matches and rooted to the bottom of the table, but there is context behind that – including the sale of Fofana to Chelsea. Rodgers previously managed Liverpool and went agonisingly close to winning the title in the 2013-14 season – eventually finishing runners-up to Manchester City. After an impressive spell with Celtic, Rodgers returned to English football with Leicester and defeated Chelsea in the 2020-21 FA Cup final. Moreover, Rodgers is a familiar face at Stamford Bridge having managed the club's reserve side from 2006-2008.

DIEGO SIMEONE

Simeone is an undoubted legend at Atletico Madrid, where he has managed to consistently compete against heavyweight rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga for over a decade. A two-time league winner, to go with medals in the Europa League, Copa del Rey and Supercopa a Espana, Simeone knows how to win trophies – even though two runs to the final of the Champions League both ended in defeat to Real Madrid. But having finished third and 15 points off the top last term, and started this season in patchy form (two wins, a draw and a defeat from four games), perhaps Simeone may finally be swayed by the prospect of pastures new.

Didier Deschamps remains confident Paul Pogba will be fit to play a big role for France at the World Cup despite missing the start of the season through injury.

Pogba sustained a knee problem in pre-season after returning to Juventus from Manchester United on a free transfer.

There were early suggestions surgery could see the World Cup winner miss Qatar 2022, but he has opted instead for therapy that aims to ensure a far swifter return.

Pogba is set to again be paired with N'Golo Kante in the France midfield in November, although the Chelsea man has not been without his own injury issues in recent seasons.

"We're talking about players who are in high demand – two players who have a big experience, leaders," Deschamps told Le Parisien of the duo.

"It is important that they are there, but we are never safe – hence the need to prepare younger players.

"I am obviously in contact with Paul. His participation in the World Cup, today, is not questioned."

Antoine Griezmann is another player still seen as key to Deschamps' plans, despite scoring only three goals in LaLiga last season.

"He's not a robot. Obviously the head controls the legs," Deschamps explained. "But every player encounters, sooner or later, a period of playing less well.

"This translates, then, into a loss of confidence.

"Antoine has had high-intensity seasons. Before his physical issue at the beginning of the year [a thigh injury], he had always been spared from injuries during his career.

"A few months earlier, he had changed clubs. External elements may also have impacted it.

"I know him well. He has a big mind. He needed to regenerate and will do everything to return to his best level. He represents a plus for the France team."

For now the focus is on getting France in the best condition heading into the World Cup, even as former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane continues to be linked to Deschamps' job.

The France boss, for his part, is not worried, saying: "I've always put the France team above me, above everything.

"Today, the place is not free, since I occupy it with my staff. Afterwards, everyone has the freedom to say what he wants and how he wants. On me, it has no impact.

"The interest, today, for the players and the whole squad, is to be efficient at the World Cup. Anything that can defeat this common goal is not necessarily a good thing."

Yacine Adli "always" had Milan in his mind while spending last season on loan at former club Bordeaux, and he arrives in Serie A with high expectations of what he could achieve.

The attacking midfielder, who turns 22 later this month, officially signed for Milan last August but remained in Ligue 1 for the 2021-22 campaign.

It ended up being a miserable one for Bordeaux, who finished bottom of the table and were then hit with a further demotion to the third tier due to their financial difficulties. The sanction was upheld after an initial appeal.

Adli knew his future was already settled, and with Bordeaux in turmoil, he unsurprisingly had greener pastures in his thoughts for much of the season.

While he was attempting to help Bordeaux dig themselves out of a hole, Milan were fighting – and ultimately won – a Serie A title battle, clinching their first Scudetto in 11 years.

As such, Adli has designs on grand achievements at San Siro.

Speaking to reporters at his official presentation on Monday, Adli said: "[Last season] wasn't an easy one. I always played my best for Bordeaux, I tried to focus on my role in the team there, although I always had Milan in mind – to get here and do my best.

"I've been wanting to arrive here in the best shape possible. I already knew some of my team-mates, but I have to adapt to the new surroundings.

 

"My French team-mates have adapted quickly to the club. I arrive with a different experience and in the team of the Italian champions. I arrive with humility and respect to achieve the greatest goals.

"I followed very closely the Milan games last season, and I saw a strong, tight, collective effort, especially towards the end of the season when no false moves could be made.

"A successful team like Milan can only aspire to [win] the Scudetto. It's not easy because in Italy there is a lot of competition. Once again this year we will try to confirm ourselves as Italian champions, we will try to defend this title in the best possible way."

The Paris Saint-Germain youth product joined Bordeaux in 2019 and developed into one of Ligue 1's most promising young players.

A technically gifted midfielder, Adli is most at home in a creative role, with much of his time on the pitch for Bordeaux spent in a central attacking position behind the striker.

Over the course of his three years with Bordeaux, only nine players (minimum of 1,500 minutes played) averaged more than his 1.6 open-play chances created in Ligue 1.

 

Sixteen bettered Adli's 15 assists over the same period, though seven of those came in the 2021-22 campaign alone, and it should be noted he was a young player in a team who never finished higher than 12th.

Admittedly, his productivity suffered significantly in the second half of 2021-22, managing to set up just one goal after the turn of the year, but again he was in a side who were in free fall as they lost 11 times and won only three games in 2022.

Despite his struggles and those of Bordeaux, Milan appear to have acquired a talent who will provide guaranteed creativity behind the forwards.

As a French attacking midfielder moving to Italy from Bordeaux, Zinedine Zidane was always likely to be mentioned during Adli's presentation, yet it was instead a former Rossoneri attacker he highlighted a particular admiration for thanks to a connection with George Weah.

"I had the chance to train with Timothy Weah [at PSG], and he always advised me to watch Roberto Baggio as an example because I could learn a lot from him – and so I did," Adli said.

"Great champions like him and Zidane are players to look up to but without trying to emulate them because [their status] is unattainable.

"I believe it's important to create your own path and work every day to get better."

While believing 1998 was not his best year as a footballer, Zinedine Zidane has conceded he wanted to be recognised as the best player in the world.

Zidane was a talismanic figure on French soil as Les Bleus claimed their first World Cup, scoring two goals in the final against Brazil and propelling him to the Ballon d'Or.

Despite going on to scale further heights in football at both club and international level, it remained the only year he ever won the prestigious individual award.

Speaking to L'Equipe to mark his 50th birthday, Zidane revealed it is one of the few trophies he kept from an exceptional playing career, while admitting he particularly wanted the status in the game that accompanied it.

"Because I give everything, I am able to offer everything," he said. "I have almost nothing at home from my career. Two or three objects. I am not at all conservative or materialistic. When I want to see souvenirs, I go to Marseille [where his parents live]. I don't live with it.

"I was a little overconfident the weeks before the vote. I got a little fired up in a few interviews. I've never been one to say, 'I deserve this or that,' but with this Ballon d'Or, in 1998, I told myself a little bit. It wasn't really me but I really wanted to have it.

"I was the best player in the world. It does not happen often, and to me only once. There may be preferences in the votes but when you have it, you have it. You are the best player in the world at this time, and it's beautiful."

Zidane admitted to a dip in form with Juventus after the World Cup success, but believes 2000 was his best year as a footballer as he led an "unplayable" France to a second European Championship.

"After the World Cup, I was catastrophic," he said. "I no longer put one foot in front of the other. Even my friends told me: 'But it's your cousin who plays, it's your cousin who came back to Juve!' When you win a big title like the World Cup, you tend to slack off. And me, I really relaxed.

"It takes time. After January, I restarted. Very well in January and February then I injured myself. One hundred days. The season is over. Then I resumed for the 1999-2000 season with the victory at the Euro. There, I was at the top.

"For the next two or three seasons, I never let go. 1998 was my year but I think 1999-2000 was my greatest season. Not just for me. For our whole generation in blue. Our France team was exceptional. Euro 2000 remains the pinnacle of this generation. At the Euro, we were unplayable."

Zinedine Zidane has not ruled out taking over as head coach at Paris Saint-Germain or following Didier Deschamps as France's national team coach, amid growing speculation over his future.

Mauricio Pochettino's departure from PSG has not yet been finalised, but reports have linked both Zidane and Nice boss Christophe Galtier to the job, with club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi even confirming talks with the latter.

Stepping down in 2021 as a two-time LaLiga and three-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Zidane would assume either role as a highly-decorated coach, having also enjoyed an exceptional playing career.

In an interview with L'Equipe to mark his 50th birthday, the Marseille native indicated he would not turn down the opportunity to coach the fiercest rivals of the club he supported as a child, citing a lack of realistic options in both personal and logistical senses.

"Never say never," he said. "Especially when you are a coach today, but the question is moot. This is absolutely irrelevant. When I was a player, I had a choice, almost every club.

"As a coach, there are not 50 clubs where I can go. There are two or three possibilities. This is the current reality. As coaches, we have much less choice than players. If I go back to a club, it's to win. I say this with all modesty. That's why I can't go anywhere. For other reasons, too, I might not be able to go everywhere.

"The language, for example. Some conditions make things more difficult. When I'm asked: 'Do you want to go to Manchester?' I understand English but I don't fully master it. I know there are coaches who go to clubs without speaking the language, but I work differently. To win, many elements come into play."

From leading France to the World Cup in 1998 as a player – propelling him to his sole Ballon d'Or award in the process – to his straight red card in the 2006 World Cup final after headbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi, Zidane experienced both the highs and lows with Les Bleus.

Punctuating his stellar international career with that sending off in Berlin leaves him with unfinished business at international level, but Zidane insisted his ambition will be with respect to current France boss Deschamps and his preparations for this year's World Cup in Qatar.

"I want to [be head coach of France], of course. I will be, I hope, one day," Zidane said. "When? It's not up to me, but I want to come full circle with the France team. I knew this French team as a player, and it's the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me.

"But really, this is the pinnacle. And so, as I experienced that and today I am a coach, the France team is firmly rooted in my head.

"When I say that I want to take the France team one day, I assume it. Today, a team is in place, with its goals. But if the opportunity comes next, then I'll be there.

"Again, it's not up to me. My deep desire is there. The France team is the most beautiful thing there is."

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insists the club never approached Zinedine Zidane with an offer to become coach, as he confirmed interest in appointing Nice's Christophe Galtier.

Zidane has been strongly linked with PSG since leaving his post as Real Madrid boss last year, particularly as Mauricio Pochettino struggled to meet the lofty targets set by club owners Qatar Sports Investments.

Pochettino missed out on the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title after taking charge midway through the season, and although he led a star-studded collection of players to the French title the following campaign, he is widely expected to be dismissed after another disappointing Champions League effort.

Pochettino has been under pressure since PSG's dramatic 3-2 aggregate reverse to eventual winners Madrid in March, with Zidane touted as a replacement, but Al-Khelaifi says he has never been an option.

"I love Zidane, he was a fantastic player, of incredible class. An exceptional coach too, with three Champions Leagues," Al-Khelaifi told Le Parisien.

"But I'll tell you one thing: we never spoke with him, neither directly nor indirectly. A lot of clubs are interested in him, national teams too, but we have never talked to him.

"We have chosen a coach who will be the best for what we want to put in place."

Al-Khelaifi confirmed PSG's number one target is Galtier, the man who beat them to the 2020-21 title when in charge of Lille, and he hopes to appoint him soon.

"We are discussing with Nice, it is not a secret," Al-Khelaifi added. "I hope that we will find an agreement quickly, but I respect Nice and the president [Jean-Pierre] Rivere, everyone defends their interests."

With Pochettino set to leave the Parc des Princes and sporting director Leonardo having been effectively replaced by new football advisor Luis Campos, PSG are undertaking a significant rebuild after fending off Madrid's interest to tie Kylian Mbappe to a new contract last month.

The arrival of Lionel Messi last August capped an unprecedented recruitment drive from the club in 2021, with Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi among their other significant incomings.

Al-Khelaifi admits the club's model must change, as he called for an end to the "bling-bling" approach of signing big-name superstars to grow the club's brand.

"The dream is one thing, the reality another. Perhaps we should also change our slogan... 'Dream bigger' is good but today, we must above all be realistic," he added.

"We don't want more flashy bling-bling, it's the end of glitter."

Zizou Bergs earned a wildcard for Wimbledon and a grand slam main draw debut by beating Jack Sock in the Ilkley Trophy final on Sunday.

Named after Zinedine Zidane – the France, Juventus and Real Madrid football great who goes by the nickname 'Zizou' – Belgian Bergs has established his sporting career in tennis.

Bergs, 23, is ranked a lowly 207th by the ATP and had to come through qualifying to play in the Ilkley event, a Challenger Tour tournament in Yorkshire.

Former world number eight Sock stood in his way in the final, but Bergs secured a 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 7-6 (8-6) victory over the American.

His father Koen Bergs wrote on Twitter: "Yesssssss. The tournament director announced during the ceremony the official reward of the WC for @Wimbledon main draw. History is made."

His triumphant son added on Instagram: "WIMBLEDON MAIN DRAW WILDCARD!! Whuuuutttt"

Bergs completes the list of men's singles wildcards, featuring alongside five British players plus Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven and Swiss three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka.

Wimbledon begins on June 27 at the All England Club in south-west London.

Zinedine Zidane says he still has the "flame" to continue his managerial career, despite a year out of the game after his departure from Real Madrid last year.

The Frenchman departed Santiago Bernabeu for a second time at the end of the 2020-21 season, having guided the club to a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs during his first term in charge and won 11 trophies in all during his time there.

Zidane has since been linked with a number of jobs, including in his home country where he was touted as the frontrunner to succeed Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Didier Deschamps' possible successor as France head coach beyond Qatar 2022.

With Nice boss Christoph Galtier now in the driving seat to take the reins at Parc des Princes, Zidane's time in the wilderness looks set to continue.

But the former World Cup winner, who turns 50 this month, hopes to return to the dugout, while admitting he remains satisfied without having to leap straight into any job that becomes available.

"I want to continue," he told Telefoot. "I still have this flame. Football is my passion.

"But I am [almost] 50 years old and fulfilled. I am happy, and that's the most important thing."

 

Zidane also addressed his infamous World Cup final headbutt on Marco Materazzi at Germany 2006, which saw him sent off for France as they went on to lose to Italy on penalties.

"I'm not proud of what I've done, but it's part of my journey," he reflected. "Even in a person's life, not everything is done perfectly."

Zinedine Zidane has always been a man focused on Real Madrid and France and therefore would not take the Paris Saint-Germain role should it become available.

That is the message from Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who briefly discussed the potential vacancy at PSG should reports prove to be true that Mauricio Pochettino will depart.

Pochettino lifted the Ligue 1 title with PSG in the 2021-22 season, his first trophy as a coach, but failed to deliver in the Champions League, falling to a last-16 exit against Madrid.

European glory remains the main goal for PSG's QSI ownership, with the understanding that Pochettino and the Ligue 1 giants have held discussions and agreed to part ways.

Zidane emerged as a frontrunner for the PSG job before Pochettino was appointed, but the preference of the 49-year-old remains to be seen.

Many believe Zidane is eyeing the France job should Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus role become available after the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Zidane managed Madrid for two spells between 2016 and 2021, winning 11 trophies with Los Blancos – the second most successful manager in the club's history.

The Les Bleus great has also lifted PSG's much-desired Champions League crown on three occasions as a coach, with three consecutive successes in Europe's premier club competition between 2016 and 2018.

But Perez, speaking to the El Chiringuito programme in Spain, finds it hard to envisage PSG securing the services of Zidane.

 

"Zidane at Paris Saint-Germain? I don't know, but he's always been a man for Real Madrid and the French national team," Perez said. 

"That's what I know about him. But maybe he's now in a different situation."

Christophe Galtier, Julen Lopetegui and Marcelo Gallardo are also said to be among the favourites if Pochettino expectedly departs.

Following their Champions League final loss, Liverpool's inevitable need for squad rejuvenation has been accelerated.

Luis Diaz's January transfer provided a fresh element to Liverpool's play under Jurgen Klopp, while Sadio Mane's departure looms. 

Meanwhile, a replacement for Mane at Anfield has reportedly emerged.

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL JOIN RACE FOR RAPHINHA

With Sadio Mane's departure imminent, Liverpool are ramping up their interest in Leeds United winger Raphinha , according to the Mirror.

The Brazil international has long been linked with Barcelona, but their much-publicised financial troubles require them to sell assets first.

Takumi Minamino  could be used as part of a package to sign the 25-year-old, who contributed 11 and three assists as Leeds secured Premier League safety.

Leeds manager Jesse Marsch is reportedly a fan of the Japan international, leaving Liverpool with potential leverage over a deal. 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are willing to offer Manchester City striker  Gabriel Jesus a weekly wage of £190,000 to secure his transfer, according to the Sun.

Manchester United are keen to secure the signature of Christian Eriksen on a free transfer with his short-term deal at Brentford expiring, per the Mirror.

Roma boss Jose Mourinho has emerged as an alternative to Zinedine Zidane in replacing Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain , the Daily Mail reports.

– Chelsea are in the race to sign Ousmane Dembele , who is available on a free transfer this off-season, per Talksport.

Rafael Nadal intends to attend the Champions League final between his beloved Real Madrid and Liverpool, despite the ongoing French Open.

Paris' Stade de France plays host to the Champions League showpiece on Saturday, with Madrid aiming for a 14th European Cup as Liverpool look to add to their EFL Cup and FA Cup successes this season.

Meanwhile, across the city in the French capital, Nadal remains in contention at Roland Garros after defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Friday.

Madrid great Zinedine Zidane was in attendance as the Spaniard cruised to victory, with the 35-year-old setting up a last-16 clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

While Nadal did not get to converse with Zidane, he was aware of the Frenchman's presence as the record 21-time grand slam winner outlined his plans to make the short trip to support Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid.

"I didn't see him, but I knew it was him, I knew he was there because I was listening to the crowd shouting his name all the time," Nadal told reporters when asked about Zidane. 

"So I imagine he was there, but I didn't have the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all.

"Tomorrow, let's see how I wake up, because, you never know with my body how the surprises are there.

"But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I'm able to have the right practice tomorrow, my intention and my goal is to be there [at the Stade de France]."

Didier Deschamps and France have agreed not to discuss a new contract until after the World Cup but that does not mean Zinedine Zidane is guaranteed to take charge of Les Blues, says French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.

Deschamps became France boss in 2012 and has since signed two contract extensions, the latter of which came after World Cup glory at Russia 2018.

The 53-year-old's current deal expires after Les Blues aim to defend their title at Qatar 2022, leading to speculation that former Real Madrid boss Zidane will be appointed after the tournament.

Le Graet suggested the appointment of Zidane has not already been pre-agreed as he placed his support behind Deschamps.

"We both agreed not to renew him until after the World Cup," Le Graet said of Deschamps to L'Equipe. "He's not mad at me. He adores me. I think he will never say anything bad about me. 

"He lost a game in the European Championship and for much of France, he should have been fired [after the last-16 exit to Switzerland at Euro 2020].

"We'll see at the end of the World Cup if he wants to renew. We will spend time in Guingamp to discuss."

When pressed for an answer as to Zidane taking charge as Deschamps' successor, Le Graet responded: "First of all, you have to be careful with what you say. Zidane showed in Madrid that he had qualities that were barely imagined. 

"In the minds of the French, he could be a successor. But that is not my goal. We'll see. If Didier and I split up, he will definitely be one of the options.

"I'm not going to say to myself: 'I hope Didier says he doesn't want to renew and I go see Zidane'. Do you see me saying today: 'It is Zidane who is going to replace Deschamps'? We'll see.

"Maybe Zidane will take charge of Paris Saint-Germain. To train the national team you have to be free. But today we will do everything possible to put Didier in the best conditions to win this World Cup."

Indeed, Zidane emerged as a favourite when reports circulated in France that Mauricio Pochettino's PSG job was under threat after Champions League elimination at the last-16 stage to Real Madrid.

Even if Zidane is available, Le Graet insists he has learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor and will not seek a new manager while Deschamps is still at the helm.

"I will never do what my predecessor [Jean-Pierre Escalettes] did, who had already signed Laurent Blanc before going to South Africa for the [2010] World Cup," he added.

"[Raymond] Domenech was already on alert. How do you expect the players to respect you when a successor has already been named? 

"It doesn't work and never will. In no case will I see another coach before having lunch with Didier after the World Cup."

Xabi Alonso says Real Madrid's ability to grind out results when not at their best has been key to their success this season, as Los Blancos eye a 35th LaLiga title. 

Alonso, who now coaches Real Sociedad's B team, made 236 appearances during a five-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, helping Carlo Ancelotti's team lift the Champions League trophy in 2014.

With Ancelotti back at the helm, Madrid hold a 15-point lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, and the Italian looks set to celebrate his first Spanish title triumph after already winning league titles in Italy, England, France, and Germany.

After beating Sevilla 3-2 with a late Karim Benzema goal last time out, Los Blancos have won 17 points from losing positions this season, the most in LaLiga, and Alonso believes that fighting spirit has been crucial.

"I think the team have found that stability, knowing that maybe they can struggle during one game, but they will have a chance to win and that they can win any game," he told FedEx.

"So far, in difficult moments, they have won games, and they are feeling comfortable playing great football and comfortable playing not the best football.

"Sometimes that's important as well, not to get nervous when you are not playing your best, to deal with those difficult times. I think that Madrid, they have dealt very well with those moments and that's why they are now in a great position.

"[There are] still many points [to play for], but yes, they are favourites [to win the league]. I think that they are the most consistent team. That's what gives you the best chance to win LaLiga at the moment. 

"I think that Carlo is a wise man. He knows how to find and to put the pieces together. That's why he's been with so many clubs, and he's [done] so many great things. He's finding his team, and he's able to deal with them so well because he has those skills to deal with the players."

Madrid have won 23 of their 32 LaLiga games this season, their highest number of victories at this stage of a season since 2016-17, when they won the title after having an identical record at this stage.

Although 39-goal striker Karim Benzema has led the charge for LaLiga and Champions League trophies, Alonso heaped praise on Ancelotti's reliable engine-room trio.

The 40-year-old also highlighted the potential of Barcelona's young midfielders, but stressed that the Blaugrana are in a "different moment" to Madrid as Xavi rebuilds the Catalan giants.

"Year by year, the midfield of Madrid, they are getting older, but they are as good as always. I've seen that Casemiro, Luka [Modric] and Toni [Kroos], they are safe as houses for any manager," he added.

"I think that Carlo has found what he needs from them and for sure he will need to rotate them. [But] they are playing very, very good football, and they are showing composure. 

"As always [with] Barca players, they have different kind of midfielders, [at a] different stage of their careers. For example, Nico, Gavi with the support of [Sergio] Busquets, it's a great prospect, but they are in a different moment right now."

Alonso picked out Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane as the one man he would have loved to play alongside..

"For sure, I would have loved to play with Zidane because I remember when I started playing in Sociedad, one of my first memories was playing against one of my idols. That was him," he added.

"To play against him, it was hard, but it was so enjoyable, and he was so elegant, things looked so easy for him, and he was such a good player. I would have loved to play with him, but I played against him."

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