Zidane meets his old master Ancelotti
The last time Zinédine Zidane visited FC Bayern, it was as coach of Real Madrid’s reserve team. Now just two years later, the international football star is back in Munich – as a Champions League winning coach! “I like him a lot,” said Carlo Ancelotti of Zidane, who previously worked as an assistant under the Italian. “He was an outstanding assistant and had a fantastic relationship with the players.”
Now they go head to head for the first time. Is there are an advantage or disadvantage and if so, for whom? “I learned a lot from him,” said Zidane, who sees the situation as evenly balanced. “I know him, he knows me – it means nothing.” Ancelotti, meanwhile, said: “I know ‘Zizou’ very well but I don’t know what his tactics will be.” The Italian has worked with a number of the Whites’ players and has “watched a lot of Real games” recently but he’s not concerning himself too much with how the opposition will line up. “What’s crucial is our tactics, not Real Madrid’s.”
The Spanish side haven’t travelled to Munich in the best condition – Pepe and Raphael Varane are missing through injury, while Daniel Carvajal has picked up a knock – but they are in top form. Real are unbeaten in 12 games and have scored in every one, helped by their BBC frontline (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo). “We’ve done very well up to now but we need to be at our best again in Munich. Our objective is to always give our maximum performance in order to win the game.”
Reunion with Kroos
FCB will have to be particularly alert to set-pieces as they have bad memories of Sergio Ramos’ aerial prowess. “He’s a born leader,” Zidane praised the Spaniard, who’s found the net several times this season too. Many of his goals have been assisted by Toni Kroos, who’ll be returning to Munich for the first time since his move to Real. “We’ve earned a lot of points from set-pieces but we can’t just rely on them. We’re capable of more,” said the former Bayern man.
Kroos will come up against some of his former teammates, including Franck Ribéry who the current Real boss also knows well. “When he first broke into the national side he was very young,” recalls Zidane. “You know what he’s like: he can always hurt you and he’s always a threat. He reminds me of Marcelo; he keeps the spirits up in the camp. A team needs that.” The 1998 World Cup winner respects the whole Bayern squad, though: “They’re a team that starts strongly and plays with intensity from the kick-off. We need to defend against that.”
Possible Real Madrid line-up: Navas - Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo - Casemiro, Modric, Kroos - Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo