Zidane denies fearing future at Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane has denied he fears for his future as Real Madrid coach if the team fail to beat Inter Milan in their must-win Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Madrid are bottom of Group B with one point after losing 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk and drawing 2-2 with Borussia Monchengladbach in their two matches so far.

“No, I don’t think about that,” Zidane said when asked if his job is on the line in a pre-match news conference on Tuesday. “I think positive. I think about tomorrow’s game. We’re lucky to play in the Champions League tomorrow. That’s all we’ll focus on. The rest is inevitable, but all we can do is prepare well and give everything.”

Zidane guided Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League trophies in his first spell in charge between 2016 and 2018.

Since his return to the club in March, 2019, the team have struggled in Europe, with a 3-0 group stage defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and back-to-back defeats to Manchester City last season — the first Champions League knockout Zidane had experienced as a manager.

“I don’t know. Everyone can have their opinion,” he said, when asked if Madrid are now less convincing in Europe. “Last year we didn’t win the Champions League. Things change, but we always aspire to win it. The players have that in their heads.”

Zidane’s preferred front three of Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio started for the first time in a competitive game on Saturday in Madrid’s 4-1 La Liga win over Huesca.

The coach is backing them to match the achievements of the club’s famous ‘BBC’ attack of Gareth Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“The players who are here always want to make history,” he said. “They always want more. Those three players will do important things with this team. This squad can win things. People outside say we have to change, but I can tell you, working with them every day, they want to compete and win.”

Madrid’s defence came under scrutiny after conceding three goals in 13 minutes in their home defeat to Shakhtar, which Sergio Ramos missed through suspension.

His defensive partner Raphael Varane admitted the captain’s return should help avoid a repeat against Inter at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium.

“It’s true that recently in the Champions League when Sergio hasn’t been there, the team hasn’t been right,” Varane said.

“Sergio brings a lot to the team with the character he has. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but without Sergio we haven’t been good in defence.

“My qualities complement his. I think I make him better and he makes me better. It’s a question of the collective.”