MADRID, April 11 — Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was at a loss to explain why his side’s disappointing La Liga campaign contrasts with their dominant displays in the Champions League ahead of their quarter-final second leg against Juventus today.
Real slipped down to fourth in the Liga standings and 15 points behind leaders Barcelona following Sunday’s draw with Atletico Madrid. However, they are on course to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for an eighth successive season as they enjoy a 3-0 lead in their tie with Juve.
“I don’t have an explanation. We always want to win everything but sometimes, like this year, we are not consistent,” Zidane told a news conference yesterday ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“We had some difficult moments, especially with scoring goals. We are much better in every aspect now, although I can’t explain why.”
Double holders Real have won three of the last four editions of the Champions League but in that time have only managed to win one league title.
“Winning the league makes me more excited, it’s the most difficult competition and I also think it’s what the players want. But if you look at the club’s record in the Champions League you’ll see no-one has achieved what we have,” the Frenchman added.
Real are without suspended captain Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez through injury and will have to field either inexperienced defender Jesus Vallejo or usual holding midfielder Casemiro alongside Rafael Varane in the heart of defence.
Juventus, meanwhile, are without Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, who was sent off in Real’s 3-0 win in Turin last week, and midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, who is also suspended, while veteran defender Andrea Barzagli was ruled out through injury.
“The result from the first leg changes nothing for us, tomorrow is another story, another game and we want to put in another great performance,” said Zidane.
Real defender Varane also dismissed any suggestions his side would play cautiously against the Serie A leaders.
“It will be a difficult game against a great team,” said the French defender.
“They know that anything is possible in football so they’ll come here to attack and win. We aren’t going to go out and play for a 0-0 draw, we want to try and win what we know will be a demanding game.” — Reuters