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Sports Zidane's greatest strength shines through as unlikely heroes guide Real Madrid past Liverpool

04:25  15 april  2021
04:25  15 april  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Zidane ' s men welcome the English outfit in the first leg of a tie between sides that have lifted the European Cup 19 times between them (9pm CET). The Champions League quarter-finals kick off tonight with one of the most attractive contests you could wish to see as Real Madrid and Liverpool bid to Real Madrid and Liverpool have captured 19 European Cup crowns between them (19 trophies for the Whites to Liverpool 's six) and everything would suggest that this will be a highly even contest. In the teams' last six encounters, each side has three wins apiece, with the last three clashes going the

Zidane ' s warning to avoid a repeat of Real Madrid 's 2004 collapse. Players are running on empty, alarm bells are sounding. Zidane , more than anyone, knows how important it is for this to be managed. In 2004, he was involved as Real Madrid collapsed while aiming for a treble under Carlos Queiroz . Then, Los Blancos had a 4-2 lead over Monaco in their Champions League quarter-final first leg, not dissimilar to the 3-1 lead they now have over Liverpool , but fell apart in the away leg.

Match statistics: Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid

Real Madrid may have spent the night at the Titanic hotel upon their arrival on Merseyside, but it was Liverpool who sank on Wednesday, with Zinedine Zidane’s patched-up side sailing through to the Champions League semi-finals.

On the 109th anniversary of the maritime disaster, Madrid dropped anchor at Anfield and would not let Jurgen Klopp’s heavy-pressing side be the iceberg they proved for rivals Barcelona two seasons ago.

Like the Catalans, Madrid took a lead to Merseyside, a 3-1 first-leg advantage. But the Blancos only had one of their first-choice defenders available in Ferland Mendy.

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Zidane ' s greatest strength shines through as unlikely heroes guide Real Madrid past Liverpool . Liverpool fluff their lines as Champions League dream ends in familiar fashion. Sporting want to make Spain international Porro's loan move from Man City permanent. "No, [next week] is still too early," Lewandowski had told Sky Sports. "I'll do everything I can to get back on the pitch, but only when I feel really good and safe.

Zidane ' s greatest strength shines through as unlikely heroes guide Real Madrid past Liverpool . Liverpool fluff their lines as Champions League dream ends in familiar fashion. At the other end of the field, the insouciance of Neymar helped to settle any nerves. So often an injury-enforced absentee in the past upon these big nights, his willingness to get on the ball and his carefree flair brought more than a touch of class to proceedings, giving confidence to those around him.

With Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez injured, and Alvaro Odriozola regarded a menace to his own side by Madrid coach Zidane, Fede Valverde started as a makeshift right-back.

Without injured captain Sergio Ramos and the imperial Raphael Varane, Madrid paired Nacho and Eder Militao together again and hoped for the best.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to produce two top-drawer saves in the opening stages, as Liverpool tried to take advantage of Uruguay midfielder Valverde’s inexperience in defence.

The Belgian reacted well to deny Mohamed Salah after he was set up by Sadio Mane, and then clawed away a James Milner curler which was ducking into his top corner.

After weathering the initial storm, Madrid found balance slowly but surely, and Karim Benzema rattled the post to warn the hosts, while first leg man-of-the-match Vinicius Junior burst into life now and then on the counter.

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Zinedine Zidane is concerned about possible fatigue issues from his Real Madrid players and decided to dedicate the second part of Monday's training session to a pleasant ride. Zidane ' s men have played a series of crucial games including the first leg of the Champions League quarte-final against The Reds and Saturday's Clasico. The objective of the unusual exercise was to give his players the opportunity to relax and avoid possible burnout, as Real Madrid 's coaching staff are aware of the risks an excessive workload entails.

Liverpool were left to rue missed chances with Real Madrid ultimately progressing to the semi-final after a goalless draw at Anfield. Maybe as unlikely a heavy metal comeback since AC/DC returned after Bon Scott’ s untimely death with Back in Black led by Brian Johnson, but in Liverpool ’ s case their frontman could not produce the goods. Jurgen Klopp’ s gegenpress or heavy metal football has been conspicuous by its absence this year but it returned turned up to 11 in the first half and make no mistake it rattled Real Madrid .

a baseball player holding a racket: Thibaut Coutois Real Madrid 2020-21 © Provided by Sporting News Thibaut Coutois Real Madrid 2020-21

In a deliberately grey and stern performance from Los Blancos, he was the one Madrid player to offer bright moments of flair. For everybody else, it was just business.

Zidane looked on approvingly as Casemiro scythed Milner down to the ground, showing Madrid were not going to cower in the wake of Liverpool’s impressive first-half energy.

Reds’ supporters will argue they were down to the bare bones too in defence, but Nacho and Militao’s superb defending helped keep their attacking trident at bay.

Salah, Mane and Firmino, while not at their best in 2021, are still one of the world’s most dangerous frontlines and, with the superb Casemiro as a shield, Madrid’s defence was able to hold them off.

Valverde produced a crucial block from Firmino in the second half to maintain Madrid’s two-goal advantage and stop any wobbles before Courtois denied Salah again in stoppage time to kill Liverpool’s last hopes.

TOPS / FLOPS REAL MADRID-LIVERPOOL: Vinicius shines, Alexander-Arnold Share in spin

 TOPS / FLOPS REAL MADRID-LIVERPOOL: Vinicius shines, Alexander-Arnold Share in spin © Panoramic Tops Vinicius has done everything in the Reds his match? Often tangled for his lack of realism before the goal, the Brazilian sprouted twice this Tuesday. And in what way, after a high class sequence to open the score (27th), then a flat from the perfect foot in a mouse hole (65E). Two goals on its two framed shots, surgical accuracy for vinicius, twirling throughout the meeting (60 sprints). He could have given a decisive pass to Benzema (71st) before going out (84th).

When one of Real ’ s buses parked up at the Kop end of the ground after the team had disembarked it was apparent one pane of a double-glazed window had been smashed and Liverpool staff were seen cleaning up a pile of broken glass on the ground with Merseyside Police officers in attendance. A Liverpool spokesperson said in a statement: “We condemn unequivocally the actions that led to Real Madrid ’ s team bus being damaged during its arrival to Anfield this evening. It is totally unacceptable and shameful behaviour of a few individuals.

Zinedine Zidane ' s charges were clinical in a 3-1 first leg victory in Madrid and come into Wednesday's game at Anfield on a high after beating Barcelona on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp 's Liverpool , meanwhile, also won their weekend league fixture and were able to give some rest to the likes of Naby Keita 4. Real Madrid 's offensive transitions. Vinicius ' presence has helped Los Blancos to become a threat again on the offensive transition, as demonstrated in recent matches like in the below example against Barcelona . The Brazilian's pace and positioning allow him to offer an option for a quick ball over the

The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper has never lost at Anfield and he was not about to start now. His reward - a confrontation with his former employers from west London.

On paper, the hosts should have been able to breach Madrid’s defence, but Zidane’s superb management has galvanised the team's back-ups.

One of the greatest man-managers in the game, he has geed up even those players who have spent the season on the fringes - Odriozola aside.

Zinedine Zidane standing in front of a building: Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid 2020-21 © Provided by Sporting News Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid 2020-21

Like after the restart last season, Madrid have reached the run-in ready to grind their way towards glory. Without Eden Hazard, they have no great creator to supply Benzema, so Zidane is sticking to what he knows works.

And it did at Anfield, with a dour, professional second half just what the doctor ordered for the record 13-time champions.

Nacho and Militao were impressive enough to make Ramos sweat over his contract demands, while Valverde passed his personal test.

With Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro immovable in midfield, Valverde will take game-time where he can get it, as long as he can play a part in Madrid's charge towards a potential double.

And after the perfect week, that quest remains firmly on course.

Madrid turns focus from Super League to Champions League .
MADRID — Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane wants nothing to do with the Super League. Last week, the Spanish club was doing everything possible to make the controversial breakaway competition happen, attracting attention to it and trying to convince everyone it was a good idea. Now, on the eve of the Champions League semifinals against Chelsea, Zidane is working hard to steer away from it. “What we have to do is to compete and to only think about playing soccer. That’s it,” Zidane said Monday. “If we start to think about everything that is being said ... it would make it worse. We can only think about the match. The referee will do his job. We have to compete as always.

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