Zi­dane needs a win against PSG

The Witness - - HORSERAC­ING -

ZINE­DINE Zi­dane in­spired France to World Cup glory as a player, but his ex­tra­or­di­nary ca­reer has to a large de­gree been de­fined by the Cham­pi­ons League.

His mag­nif­i­cent volleyed goal for Real Madrid in their 2002 win over Bayer Lev­erkusen at Ham­p­den Park in Glas­gow is one of the great­est to be scored in a Euro­pean Cup fi­nal.

As such, it is up there with his brace in France’s 1998 win over Brazil, his coun­try’s Euro 2000 tri­umph and the in­fa­mous head­butt on Marco Mat­er­azzi dur­ing the 2006 World Cup fi­nal, as among the most mem­o­rable mo­ments of his play­ing days.

He has car­ried on his love af­fair with the Cham­pi­ons League as a coach, from his role as as­sis­tant to Carlo Ancelotti in Real’s 2014 tri­umph to lead­ing Madrid to glory him­self in the past two sea­sons.

But now Zi­dane’s fu­ture in charge at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu is hang­ing by a thread, pos­si­bly tied to the out­come of the show­down with a for­mi­da­ble Paris Saint­Ger­main out­fit. Madrid host PSG in the last 16, first leg tonight while Liverpool travel to Porto.

For 18 months af­ter Zi­dane’s ap­point­ment in Jan­uary 2016, the French­man could do no wrong, but a lit­tle of the magic has de­serted him re­cently.

“This is an un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion, but we must live with it, hold our course,” Zi­dane said in an in­ter­view.

He has won eight tro­phies since re­plac­ing the un­pop­u­lar Rafa Ben­itez in the Madrid dugout, in­clud­ing an un­prece­dented five in one calendar year in 2017. Zi­dane also over­saw the club’s first La Liga and Euro­pean Cup dou­ble since 1958, as well as a record 40­match un­beaten run. But now they stand fourth in La Liga, at risk of fin­ish­ing off the podium in their do­mes­tic league for the first time since 2004. Fin­ish­ing second be­hind Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in their Cham­pi­ons League group also ex­posed them to this tougher draw.

The man born and raised in a tough neigh­bour­hood of Mar­seille needs a win over the Parisian aris­to­crats.

Since Vi­cente del Bosque was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously sacked in 2003, Real have ap­pointed a new coach 13 times. The long­est serv­ing in that time has been José Mour­inho, who sur­vived three sea­sons.

He has not yet lost a Cham­pi­ons League knock­out tie as a coach, and he will need to ex­tend that run against Ney­mar and com­pany to stand any chance of still be­ing in charge of Real be­yond this sea­son. — AFP.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.