Zidane: ‘Conte a real leader’

Zinedine Zidane assures Real Madrid ‘know how important this game is and are ready’ against ‘real leader’ Antonio Conte’s Inter, but shrugs off an Isco-Christian Eriksen exchange.

It kicks off on Wednesday at San Siro at 20.00 GMT and failure to win would effectively eliminate the Nerazzurri from the running for the Round of 16.

“We know how important this game is and we are ready,” insisted the coach in his press conference.

Real Madrid made the trip without key players Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema, so Mariano Diaz seems likely to start.

“He has proved on the pitch what he can give us. We know how important Sergio is for us, but we can’t just stop because he’s injured.

“It’ll be like a Final tomorrow, we will be made to suffer, but approach this with the right mentality. This is football, there are moments when you feel strong and everything you try comes off, then other more complicated times when you have to roll your sleeves up. It’s not just at Real Madrid, but every team gets that.”

Real Madrid were held to a draw by Villarreal in La Liga at the weekend and struggled to beat Inter 3-2 in the Champions League last time out.

“We had been in front against Villarreal until the 74th minute, so it wasn’t that bad. We are concentrated and I am not a fatalist. Our future is in our hands and we are working to improve.

“There are many games to be played, it’s not easy with no real time to prepare, but there are no excuses and we’re all in the same boat. We always aim for the victory, no matter the circumstances, so we’re certainly not going there for a draw. There is an element of risk in every Champions League match, but we must always try to win.”

There have been some reports that Isco wants an exit, potentially in an exchange with Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen.

“Isco is with us, he is our player and we’re happy to have him.”

Zidane was teammates with Antonio Conte during their time together at Juventus.

“He was my captain, a real leader on the field. I always had a good rapport with Antonio and I still do.”


Modric: ‘Like a Final with Inter’

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric warns it’ll be ‘like a Final’ tomorrow with Inter in the Champions League and they can make do without Karim Benzema.

It kicks off on Wednesday at 20.00 GMT, with both teams having struggled so far in Europe this season.

“We have to face this game like a Final, playing as a team. I hope we’ll do it well,” said Modric in his press conference.

There are many injury problems for the Merengues, including top scorer Benzema.

“Karim is a very important player for us, while Mariano Diaz is a different type of role, but we trust he’ll prove his worth. When some players are missing, we need to be even more of a team to cover the gaps in the best possible way.

“We know every match has its issues and when you are not at your best, especially in Europe, it’s difficult to get the victory. We must prove our strength and our character in this competition.

“Despite the criticism, we have done some good things this season and there are circumstances to be considered, such as the lack of fans in the stadium.”

Even coach Zinedine Zidane, in his second stint at Real Madrid, has not been spared criticism in the media.

“We have won so much with him and hope to continue winning together.”

Former Ballon d’Or winner Modric has not yet clarified his future and there are reports he could move on.

“I feel good and play when the coach decides. I feel there’s an ideal condition to continue and help the team. Obviously, I’d like to remain and end my career at Real Madrid.”


Handanovic: ‘Inter need seven points’

Ahead of the match against Real Madrid, captain Samir Handanovic said Inter ‘will need seven points’ to advance to the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Nerazzurri are bottom of Group B after three games and the match against Real Madrid at San Siro can be vital to extend their stay beyond the group stages of the competition.

“To go through, we need seven points,” Handanovic told Sky Sport Italia. “There are three games left and everything is at stake.

“The importance of tomorrow’s match is fundamental. In these games, you need everything, that everyone raises the level.”

Inter seemed set to turn things around in Madrid, as they bounced back from 0-2 to 2-2, before Rodrygo scored 3-2 and sealed the win for the home side.

“In the first leg we played well, but unfortunately these situations make the difference in football and sometimes we make our life complicated all by ourselves.

“You must be better at this. I don’t think it’s not possible, I think we must understand that when teams play against Inter, they give a little extra and sometimes we haven’t matched the intensity of other teams.

“When you don’t, you can be put in difficulty. And at the start of this season, it has happened three or four times already.”


Official: Decimated Real Madrid against Inter

Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Eder Miltao have been left out of Real Madrid’ squad list to face Inter on Wednesday but Zizou Zidane recovers Casemiro.

The Real Madrid boss finds himself without six players for the Merengues’ key away clash against Inter on Wednesday.

The French striker and the Spanish defender are injured while Eder Militao has tested positive for COVID. The Brazilian hasn’t recovered yet while his compatriot Casemiro has had a negative swab test and will travel with the team to Milan.

Benzema had trained apart from the rest of the team today and hasn’t managed to recover from an injury he picked up before the international break.

Luka Jovic is also out of action due to COVID while Federico Valverde and Alvaro Odrizola are injured.

The La Liga giants are third in the group B with four points while Inter sit at the bottom of the table with two.

Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk are first and second respectively with five and four points.

This is the Real Madrid squad list for Inter clash:

Goalkeepers: Courtois, Lunin, Altube.
Defenders: Carvajal, R. Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, F. Mendy, Víctor Chust.
Midfielders: Kroos, Modri?, Casemiro, Ødegaard, Isco.
Attackers: Hazard, Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Vinicius Jr., Mariano Diaz, Rodrygo, Hugo Duro.


Bergomi: ‘Milan more convincing than Juve’

Former Inter defender Beppe Bergomi has claimed ‘Milan are more convincing than Juve’ and insists Achraf Hakimi must be used differently.

The Old Lady are four points off table leaders Milan after eight Serie A games.

“Juventus have not convinced me yet, especially in big games” Bergomi told Sky Sport.

“Milan, on the other hand, have convinced me with [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic as they’ve already won against Inter and Napoli. Juventus played against Lazio and Roma but didn’t win.”

“At the beginning of the season I had the feeling Milan could do well, I thought they would be among the top four. [Paolo] Maldini is aware he’s built a good team.

“Milan have players that run everywhere on the pitch, it’s hard to score against them and the team has gained self-confidence.”

The 1982 Italy World Cup winner believes Inter must do something more.

“They absolutely need to improve. For example, I think it’s clear to everyone that Hakimi must be used differently. He shouldn’t receive the ball on his feet or he would pass it back.

“As for [Christian] Eriksen he is another player who struggles to dribble past defenders. I don’t think [Antonio] Conte will make a revolution. Inter need to recover and he has not time to do experiments. Another proble is Inter’s defensive line. It’s too slow this season, they don’t have a fast player at the back.”