Posted on April 26, 2018
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed his team’s “belief” after they came from behind again to win 2-1 at Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg.
Madrid were poor through the first half and deservedly fell behind due to Bayern right-back Joshua Kimmich catching out Keylor Navas at his near post, but the champions of the last two seasons went in at the break level after Marcelo smashed home a low 20-yarder.
Half-time substitute Marco Asensio nervelessly took advantage of a Rafinha mistake to make it 2-1, with Navas redeeming himself with some excellent stops from Bayern’s man of the match Franck Ribery.
With his side now having won at Paris Saint Germain, Juventus and Bayern in their three away knock-out games in this year’s competition, the Blancos coach told the post-game news conference that his team had risen to the occasion again even while giving their opponents chances to score.
“We believe, and we have the motivation to do well, even when suffering,” Zidane said. “We like to play in these stadiums, to do well, and that came to pass. We had difficulties at the start of the game, which can happen, but we finished up better. We also took risks, the opponents had chances to score, but we controlled the game very well.”
Zidane admitted his team had not played at their best, especially when trying to build passing moves in the first half.
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“We can be happy with the result,” he said. “We had a lot of difficulties at the start. We found it difficult to bring the ball out from the back, then we played a better second half. We can be happy and satisfied with what we did. We suffered a bit without the ball, but did well with it. To win here is nothing easy, we know that. We can play better, yes, but we can be happy with the game.”
Madrid also won 2-1 at Bayern in last year’s quarterfinal first leg, only for the Germans to take the tie to extra time at the Bernabeu, while Zidane’s side almost blew a 3-0 first-leg advantage in this season’s previous round.
“We will have to fight in the second game,” Zidane admitted with a smile. “It is never over — we saw in the game against Juve, you can never say that things are over after the first leg. We are happy with the win, but we know we will have to suffer in the return. At home we will have to take on the game in a different way [to Juve] for sure, as if not, we could have a hard time.”
Zidane refused to blame Navas individually for Bayern’s goal, and pointed out the Costa Rica’s saves after the break had been crucial.
“The mistake is from all of us — we were not well positioned at the start of the move,” Zidane said. “Then it is the consequence of [multiple] errors, not just Keylor. But in the second half he made two or three great saves, and was very good.”
Zidane said he had not given youngster Asensio any special instructions before entering at half-time, just some advice with defensive organisation.
“Asensio knows what he has to do, with the ball. I don’t tell him much about that, as he is very direct, hits the ball impressively, as we saw with the goal. But defensively we had to tell him some things, that’s all, and he did that very well as in first half we had some problems with James [Rodriguez] and Thiago [Alcantara] between the lines, and in second half we did things a bit better.”
It was too early to say yet whether the shoulder and muscle problems which saw Isco and Dani Carvajal leave the pitch would rule them out for long, Zidane said.
“Isco had a shoulder problem, he did not feel comfortable from the start, so we changed him at the break,” he said. “We hope it is not too serious. Dani has a problem but he says it is not too serious. We will see what the tests say tomorrow or the next day at home in Madrid.”