Restless Real accept away team tag

YOKOHAMA • Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admitted yesterday his players were suffering from cabin fever after spending almost a week couped up in a Japanese hotel.

As the European champions prepare to plunder more silverware at the Club World Cup, Zidane has noticed his players becoming restless before the final against Japan's Kashima Antlers today.

"To be honest it is very boring having to spend a week in a hotel," the Frenchman told reporters.

"The players want to relax and do fun stuff but we understand that it's part of the job.

"We have to be professional and treat it as a training camp."

Zidane, who has lost just twice since taking over from Rafa Benitez in April and overseen a club record 36-match unbeaten run, was asked for his thoughts on his opponents.

"They run a lot," he said, before warning against complacency. "It's basically a home game for them so the conditions favour them."

Kashima coach Masatada Ishii tried to play down the expectations of the local media.

"We have a chance to show that Japanese football has closed the gap a little bit," he said.

"I envy the players being able to play in such a big game, although when I was a player I wasn't that good - I would have been cheering from the bench."

The Japanese club will be planning to unleash a secret weapon to strike terror into Real - a sharp-toothed crocodile.

Though relative minnows on the world stage, a voracious predator with a deadly bite lurks in the Kashima side in the form of defender Naomichi Ueda.

"I'm a crocodile," he said. "Just as a crocodile will complete its conquest by dragging its prey into the water, I just want to bring them down - whether it's in the air or on the ground, one on one."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'Restless Real accept away team tag'. Print Edition | Subscribe