Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane looking for more Champions League glory

17 February 2016 03:23

Zinedine Zidane will begin a new chapter in his Champions League history when he takes charge of Real Madrid in the competition for the first time against Roma, who also have a different man at the helm from the group stages.

Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez at the Bernabeu at the beginning of 2016, has won the trophy during both his playing and coaching career - each time with Real.

In 2002 he famously scored a spectacular match-winning volley from the edge of the area in a 2-1 victory against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park then, two years ago, the French World Cup winner was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant during Madrid's historic 10th European Cup success.

Zidane has made a solid start to his first solo coaching role by winning five of his six games in La Liga - drawing the other match.

Defender Raphael Varane has hailed the impact his countryman has made since taking the top job.

"He's a coach who loves the sport and who likes to play attacking football. He likes to play quick possession football," Varane told

"He's added in more physical work in the training sessions, which is allowing us to press higher up the field. He's close to his players. He likes to chat with us and show us videos so that we can improve the finer details.

"The fact that he was a player and that he's a young coach means that we have a close relationship. When I was a child I saw him play and he's got an excellent reputation throughout the world and especially in France."

Madrid's expulsion from the Copa del Rey and their four-point deficit to in-form league leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand on Los Blancos, intensifies the need for a strong European campaign.

And striker Karim Benzema hopes they can go all the way for the second time in three years , saying in an interview with Bwin: "We've lifted the 'decima' (10th) and that was incredible. If we could win the 'undecima' (11th) it would go down in footballing history and the history of Real Madrid".

Roma scraped into this season's knock-out stage after winning just one group game under Rudi Garcia.

Luciano Spalletti, coach between 2005 and 2009, returned to manage the club last month and the Serie A side are looking much improved.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Champions League leading scorer this season with 11 goals, will pose the biggest threat to Roma but Spalletti has no specific plans for the Portugal international.

"I've heard talk about sticking men on him but I won't tell my players that three of them need to mark Cristiano Ronaldo. I'm not going to say to them that they're worth a third of one Portuguese player, otherwise I would need a team of 33 to face a side of that quality," Spalletti was quoted as saying by

"I have to let whoever is playing in the same area as him know that he has the chance to match Cristiano Ronaldo."

Roma will be attempting to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2008, when they did so by beating Real 4-2 on aggregate.

Spalletti is optimistic about their chances of repeating that success, adding: "We're on the right track and my players have the opportunity to make another leap forward, even more than what we've achieved recently.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Roma win in the last minute of the second leg to qualify for the next round. I wouldn't be surprised if we're still in the competition at the end of this tie."

Source: PA

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