Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Only winning saves a Madrid coach’s job – Zidane

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Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO

Real Madrid may be on the verge of a first La Liga and Champions League double for 59 years, but coach Zinedine Zidane insisted his job is only safe if he delivers trophies.

Madrid sports daily reported on Saturday that Zidane is set to be handed a contract extension to 2020 as a reward for his spectacular success since taking charge in January last year.

Real need seven points from their last three La Liga games for a first league title in five years and face Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.

Zidane also led Madrid to the Champions League last season, but having spent over a decade at the club as a player, assistant manager and coach of Real’s youth team before moving up to the first team, the Frenchman knows only finishing the job by winning trophies will do.

“I am improving in all aspects (as a coach), but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

“I know where I am and the only thing that matters here is doing everything possible to win.”

Three games over the next eight days will determine if Madrid can end Barcelona’s dominance of La Liga.

The European champions host Sevilla in their final home game of the season before travelling to Celta Vigo and Malaga.

And Zidane is taking nothing for granted as he believes the toughest part of Real’s season is still to come.

“These three matches in the league and the Champions League final are the hardest part,” he added.

“We are getting closer and closer to the goal. We realise that we have four matches left, at the beginning of the season we had 50 games left.

“Today we still have four finals to try to win the championship and the Champions League, but in saying that, we haven’t won anything yet.”

Zidane has used the depth of his squad to great effect in recent weeks by making wholesale changes for La Liga games sandwiched between Champions League encounters.

And after resisting an Atletico Madrid onslaught on Wednesday night to progress to the Champions League final 4-2 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 on the night, he confessed he will name two very different teams at home to Sevilla and at Celta in midweek.

“We have to think solely about the game tomorrow. I will pick a team as always and on Wednesday I will pick another one which, for sure, will have changes.”

Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal and Pepe will definitely miss out against Sevilla due to injury.

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