Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 9°C Sunday 25 October 2020

Zidane's biggest game as Real Madrid boss and this week's Champions League talking points

Real Madrid hold a 2-0 lead against Roma, while Chelsea are behind for the visit of PSG.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 17.15

1.  Zizou needs Europe to keep hopes of silverware alive

REAL MADRID COACH Zinedine Zidane is preparing for his biggest game since taking charge as the Spanish giants eye a place in the Champions League quarter-finals against Roma on Tuesday.

Madrid hold a commanding 2-0 lead from the first leg in the Italian capital three weeks ago, but have little room for error with the Champions League their last realistic hope of a trophy this season after a poor domestic campaign.

Roma have won their last seven Serie A games since coach Luciano Spalletti’s return to the club in January to propel themselves back up to third.

Madrid also sit third in La Liga, 12 points adrift of runaway leaders Barcelona and four behind city rivals Atletico.

However, Zidane’s men did at least bounce back from their derby defeat against Atletico last weekend with a 7-1 thrashing of Celta Vigo on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring four.

Ronaldo also opened the scoring in the first leg against Roma to take his tally in the Champions League to 12 in just seven games this season.

© – AFP, 2016

2. Wolfsburg still wary of Gent after throwing away big lead

Wolfsburg should not underestimate Gent as they take a 3-2 advantage into their second leg in Germany on Tuesday.

Dieter Hecking’s side surged three goals ahead in the opening encounter at the Ghelamco Arena and looked set for a simple route into the quarter-finals when Max Kruse added to Julian Draxler’s double in the 60th minute.

But the Bundesliga side failed to hold on, conceding goals to Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly in the final 10 minutes to set up a tense return match.

Wolfsburg head into the game on the back of a 2-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Saturday while Gent, currently second in the Belgian Pro League, drew 1-1 with Leuven last Friday.

3. Chelsea and PSG pinning their seasons on European success

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain meet at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with both sides’ seasons riding on the outcome of their Champions League last 16, second leg showdown.

PSG head to London with a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Paris last month thanks to a late Edinson Cavani winner, but the tie is finely poised, with John Obi Mikel’s away goal giving Chelsea plenty of reason to believe they can progress.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Away goals have decided the meetings of the sides in each of the last two seasons, with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge taking PSG through at the same stage last season after Chelsea had come out on top in the 2014 quarter-finals.

The stakes are extremely high for this latest clash of the clubs, with Chelsea looking to Europe for joy while they continue to struggle in the Premier League.

France Soccer Champions League David Luiz and Diego Costa tussle in the first leg. Source: AP/Press Association Images

They have lost just once in 16 games since the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December, but that loss came at the Parc des Princes three weeks ago and Chelsea are coming off a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City that surely ended their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, PSG had their minds elsewhere during a 0-0 home draw with Montpellier at the weekend.

They are 23 points clear of Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 and could secure another French title as early as next weekend, so they risk having a rather anti-climactic finish to the season if they are eliminated from Europe.

© – AFP, 2016

4. AVB’s Zenit aiming to turn tie around

Zenit must overturn their 1-0 first-leg deficit against Benfica if they are to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history on Wednesday.

This season is the third time in five years that the Russian champions have reached the knockout stages, but their previous visits have ended in disappointment, including when they were beaten by Benfica over two legs in 2012.

It is also first time the Portuguese title holders have reached the knockout stages since that season, when they went on to be beaten by eventual winners Chelsea in the last eight.

The first leg of this tie saw Benfica claim the advantage in a dramatic finish, with Jonas netting in the last minute and Domenico Criscito receiving a red card in a game that was seconds away from finishing goalless.

Eva Carneiro ‘wants public apology from Mourinho’

‘I played Call of Duty instead of watching Arsenal and Tottenham’

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next: