Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. Photo: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
Zinedine Zidane insists he is not letting the pressure get to him as he prepares his Real Madrid side for today’s huge Champions League last-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I’m very happy. We all live for these moments. I don’t feel any particular pressure,” a relaxed Zidane said at a press conference at Real’s Valdebebas training complex yesterday.
“We have prepared as we usually do. Certainly tomorrow (today) there will be a bit more pressure than usual, but I’m going to enjoy it. My future does not bother me much just now.”
Zidane has been going through the toughest period of his short managerial career, with Real fourth in La Liga, a huge 17 points behind leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand.
That has led to speculation that the Frenchman’s future as coach is on the line against a feared PSG side, with the two-time defending European champions putting all their hopes in the Champions League going into the first leg of this tie.
“I am just trying to get on with my work. This is my passion,” said Zidane, who has won eight trophies as Real coach. “I have nothing that I need to demonstrate.”
The tie is a special one for the Marseille-born Zidane, as he faces a French club for the first time since being appointed Real coach in January 2016. The second leg will be in Paris on March 6.
“Playing against PSG as someone from Marseille, there has always been a rivalry there, but I’m not going to think about that. I just want a beautiful game of football.”
Zidane got the full backing of Real’s Brazilian left-back Marcelo, who said the former World Cup winner has a great relationship with the stars in the Madrid dressing room.
“He is a person who is very close to us and who helped us so much when he arrived here,” said the 29-year-old.
“He is a great coach who has done so much for this team and will keep on doing so to get things back to how they used to be.”
Marcelo will be coming up against his international team-mate Neymar, who he claimed ahead of the game in an interview with Brazilian television would “one day play for Real Madrid”.
“Madrid fans like good players, and Neymar is a world star. Any fan would like to have Neymar in their team,” he added on Tuesday.
Real, though, are wary of the threats elsewhere in a PSG side also featuring the likes of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.
“Of course Neymar is a great player who is on top of his game, but we are not only thinking about him.” — AFP.