Sports

Zidane: I’ll never be Madrid version of Sir Alex


Zinedine Zidane has denied he could stay at Real Madrid long enough to become the club’s Sir Alex Ferguson after saving his job with a 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach that saw them through to the Champions League last 16.

– Ratings: Benzema 9/10 as Real Madrid secure last-16 passage
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Zidane’s position had come under intense scrutiny after one win in five games saw his team struggling in La Liga and in Europe.

Madrid’s season is now back on track, though, after posting back-to-back victories, beating Sevilla on Saturday and then Monchengladbach on Wednesday, ahead of a derby with Atletico this weekend.

“I’ll never be Madrid’s Sir Alex Ferguson, that’s for sure,” Zidane said in his post-match news conference on Wednesday night. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here, so I don’t even think about it. I think about the day-to-day and how lucky I am to be here at this great club.”

Ferguson spent 26 years as manager of Manchester United — while Zidane has been in charge at the Bernabeu for just four years, over two spells, so far.

“I like it, even in the complicated moments, not just when we win,” he said. “But I don’t know for how long. I’ve already been here a long time, in Spain, in Madrid, and I want to stay a bit longer.”

A convincing display against Monchengladbach saw Karim Benzema score two first-half headers before he, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez were all denied by the woodwork. That helped ease the pressure of an up-and-down Champions League campaign that had left Madrid on the brink of a first ever group stage exit, after home and away defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk.

“It’s a huge satisfaction,” Zidane said. “That was the target, to try to finish first, and we did it. We played a spectacular game on every level from the first minute to the last.”

“We’re all in the same boat,” he added. “I’m happy for the players. They’re the most important, I’m here fighting with them, but they’re the ones fighting… It was fundamental [to finish top], so important.”

That first-placed group B finish means Real Madrid could face RB Leipzig, Lazio, Atalanta or Porto in the Champions League last 16. They will avoid tough opponents such as last year’s winners Bayern Munich and finalists Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City.



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