Zidane appeals for calm as Real suffer blow

Wolfsburg midfielder Josuha Guilavogui getting the better of Real Madrid's Toni Kroos (left) in an aerial duel.
Wolfsburg midfielder Josuha Guilavogui getting the better of Real Madrid's Toni Kroos (left) in an aerial duel.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WOLFSBURG (Germany) • Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane urged his side to remain calm after their Champions League hopes suffered a setback with a shock 0-2 loss at Wolfsburg in their quarter-final, first-leg clash on Wednesday.

The Frenchman said the 10-time European Cup winners could still progress in Madrid on Tuesday at the expense of the first-time quarter-finalists.

"We need to remain calm and united," he said.

"We have to believe and know that we have a difficult game and see if we can turn it around.

"I'm not happy, above all with the first half. This is what happens when you don't play with intensity.

"We didn't expect the 2-0 defeat and we need to analyse where we went wrong and make corrections. I have to find the reasons for the defeat and the solutions."

  • 8
    Real Madrid have been knocked out in the last-eight fixtures in which they lost the first leg.

  • 2
    Real conceded two goals in the opening 25 minutes of a Champions League knockout game for the first time in their history.

Real went into the game buoyed by their 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the Clasico on Saturday and knowing that the Champions League remains their best hope of silverware this season.

But, despite a strong start to the game, they suffered their first defeat in the competition this season.

The hosts took a shock lead on 18 minutes when Real midfielder Casemiro put in a clumsy foul on Wolfsburg striker Andre Schuerrle and Ricardo Rodriguez nailed the spot kick.

Midfielder Maximilian Arnold then slotted home on 25 minutes as Wolfsburg capitalised on some woeful Real defending.

Real's star forwards Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were kept quiet, although Bale was left frustrated at not being awarded a first-half penalty after a heavy challenge in the area from Luiz Gustavo.

France forward Karim Benzema went off on 41 minutes after a knock.

"We did everything we had set out to do and that was to play with courage, control the ball and use our speed," Wolfsburg sports director Klaus Allofs told reporters.

"There were a lot of people who expected us to lose heavily against Real. But it did not happen. We will now try to get something out of this starting position."

It was Wolfsburg's first win in four games since beating Gent in the last 16 of the tournament.

Another low point for the visitors on Wednesday was the play-acting by defender Marcelo.

The left-back thrust his head towards Arnold's chest in the 69th minute, then crumpled to the turf, clutching his face.

Marcelo's theatrics were ridiculed by pundits and on social media, while Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking warned the Brazilian not to try anything similar during the return leg.

"Marcelo is an actor," fumed Hecking, who sought the defender out after the game.

"I told Marcelo to cut his acting out."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Zidane appeals for calm as Real suffer blow'. Print Edition | Subscribe