Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them
Moenchengladbach’s Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini and Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois vie for the ball during a recent football match. File/AFP
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Updated 31 October 2020

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

MADRID:  Real Madrid will be hoping to leave their sticky patch behind them when they play Huesca in La Liga on Saturday, with an early six-point lead to preserve over Barcelona.

The resignation of Barca’s club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overshadowed what has been a dramatic week for Madrid, who barely salvaged a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 with three minutes left, Madrid were facing a defeat that would have squandered the momentum gained from last weekend’s Clasico win at Camp Nou.

A late double from Karim Benzema and Casemiro ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side snatched a draw that felt like a win but to consolidate that positivity, they cannot afford another slip this weekend.

“The team is what it has shown, it’s about a reaction,” said Zidane. “The first half was very good, we played well. The pity is we conceded the first goal, but we continued to think it was possible, even at 2-0.

“That showed the character of the team and I’m very proud of them. We are not happy because we want to win, but we must be happy with the performance.”

Madrid play a Huesca side that is yet to win this season, as they followed four consecutive draws with a 4-1 loss away at league leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zidane could also hand Eden Hazard his first start since August, after the Belgian came off the bench in midweek.

That was Hazard’s first appearance of the season as he tries to overcome his latest injury setback, which the club have only described as a muscle injury.

“It’s good. I’m here to play football,” said Hazard on Wednesday. “After two or three months off the pitch, I’m so happy. I just want to play football, that’s why I’m here.”

On the last-gasp draw in Germany, Hazard said: “We showed great character, to be 2-0 down with five minutes to play, I think we could have scored one more, I could have scored one more, but I missed. It’s not three points but it feels like a victory.”

Zidane was determined to give Hazard time to recover fully and he believes the club will have to be cautious.

“He’s just started playing. It is his first game after a long time away,” said Zidane. “The plan was for him to try to play but little by little is what we have to do.”

A Madrid victory against Huesca could send them back to the top of the table, above Real Sociedad who are the only team to have retained top spot in consecutive rounds so far this term.

Real Sociedad play away at Celta Vigo on Sunday, just before third-placed Granada host Levante and struggling Valencia play at home to Getafe.

If Atletico Madrid win their two games in hand they will go top, with Diego Simeone’s side away at Osasuna on Saturday.

Barcelona, who beat Juventus on Wednesday, also have two games in hand but are seven points off the lead. Their new era without Bartomeu begins in La Liga away at Alaves on Saturday night.


Juventus, Inter play catch-up on AC Milan before big European games

Updated 05 December 2020

Juventus, Inter play catch-up on AC Milan before big European games

Juventus, Inter play catch-up on AC Milan before big European games
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Rossoneri are targeting their first Serie A title since 2011

MILAN, Italy: Juventus host city rivals Torino on Saturday looking to close the gap on high-flying Serie A leaders AC Milan before next week’s final Champions League group clash at Barcelona.

The Italian champions are fourth in the table, six points behind Milan, who head to Sampdoria on Sunday looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league.

Second-placed Inter Milan, five points adrift on their city rivals, host Bologna, days before their Champions League hopes will be decided in a must-win game against Shakhtar Donesk at the San Siro.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Milan are targeting their first Serie A title since 2011, when the Swede last played for the club.

Ibrahimovic has missed their last two games including their Europa League win over Celtic with a muscular injury and will be sidelined for the trip to 11th-placed Sampdoria.

But while Milan have shown they can win without their star striker, who leads the Serie A scoring charts with 10 goals, Juve are reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo.

BACKGROUND

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has missed their last two games including their Europa League win over Celtic with a muscular injury and will be sidelined for the trip to 11th-placed Sampdoria.

They have drawn five of nine games played this season including last weekend’s 1-1 against Benevento when Ronaldo was rested.

They have drawn five of nine games played this season including last weekend’s 1-1 against Benevento when Ronaldo was rested.

The Portugal forward will return for the derby along with Paulo Dybala, but Spain attacker Alvaro Morata sits out due to a two-match suspension.

Torino coach Marco Giampoalo has recovered from coronavirus as his 18th-placed side seek a first top-flight win at Juve since April 1995.

Milan head to Genoa looking to keep their unbeaten league run, and after qualifying for the Europa League knockout rounds.

“Ibra is an important player, even when he is not playing, he’s a leader,” said Pioli.

“But we have shown we have many solutions.”

Sassuolo are third, equal on points with Inter after suffering their first defeat of the season to Conte’s side last time out.

The side from Emilia-Romagna face a tough trip to sixth-placed Roma, whose seven-match unbeaten run ended in Napoli last weekend.

Napoli, in fifth, travel to promoted Crotone, as they push for a first league title since the days of Diego Maradona in 1990, to honour the memory of the Argentina legend.

Eighth-placed Atalanta go to Udinese before their Champions League trip to Ajax, with Lazio, just behind, playing at promoted Spezia before hosting Club Brugge.

Captain Andrea Belotti needs one more goal to reach his 100th Torino goal.

Belotti, 26, has accounted for seven of his struggling side’s 16 goals this season and they have six points from nine games.

The Italy forward joined the club in 2015, scoring a career-high 26 league goals the following campaign.