Zinedine Zidane: “I’m not interested in being favourites”

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Real boss Zinedine Zidane has played down suggestions that his side are favourites to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition again as they host Juventus.

Only a spectacular collapse will deny Real another semi-final appearance following their Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired victory in Italy, where the Portuguese captain scored two goals including an incredible bicycle kick in the first leg.

Twelve-time winners Real are therefore looking to win the competition for the fourth time in five seasons, but Zidane insisted that they could do that without being branded as favourites.

“I’m not interested in talk of favourites, I prefer to show it out on the pitch and we must respect all clubs and all aspects of football,” the former World Cup winner added.

“If we put in a great performance and we are focused throughout the match we have a good chance of battling through, but we must keep that idea in mind.”

Los Blancos will play without suspended captain Sergio Ramos when they host Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and defender Jesus Vallejo, 21, could start alongside Raphael Varane for Real.

As for the defending Serie A Champions, they will play without key forward Paulo Dybala, who was sent off in the first leg for two yellow cards, but defender Giorgio Chiellini says that they would put on an improved performance in Spain after their first-leg disappointment.

“We’re not crying about what happened, and we go to Madrid with the desire to play a good game,” Chiellini added. “We’ll treat it like a marathon, not a sprint and we’ll need to go into the game with a level head.”

Prediction:

Real Madrid 0 : 0 Juventus

Fernando Torres set to leave Atletico by end of the season

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Fernando Torres has revealed his plans to leave Atletico Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season to seek more game time.

The Spaniard is in his second spell at the club he left in 2007 to sign for Liverpool, and also had stints at Chelsea and Milan before returning to Spain in 2015.

Torres, 34, has only made three starts in La Liga this season and made 17 appearances from the bench, scoring two goals.

“I want to take advantage of this opportunity to say this will be my last season at the club,” Torres said at a promotional event. “It has not been an easy decision. Looking at the reality, the circumstances, perhaps it’s for the best. I accept that I’m not having much of a role, so perhaps this is the moment to step aside for others.”

“It’s difficult to say goodbye for a second time because I wanted to retire here but things don’t always go as you want. I feel physically and mentally able to keep playing. I am in good shape and I will look elsewhere for games.”

“I still feel I can play, and want to keep playing,” he added. “I have not listened to any offers [from other clubs] yet, but I will now. We will sit down and look at what we have, before making a decision when the time comes.”

Atletico will honour Torres at their last home game of the season against Eibar on 20 May and will make it an “unforgettable” occasion.

“Fernando is a legend of our club,” said Atletico president Enrique Cerezo. “The doors of Atletico de Madrid will always be open for him.”

“We have always said that he would have the decision about his future because this is his home and if he has decided to continue his professional career from the next season in another place, I can only thank him for everything he has given us, which is a lot.”

Barca on steady course to La Liga title after Madrid derby ends in draw

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FC Barcelona is on a steady course to win their 25th La Liga title after the match between their two closest rivals, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick for runaway leaders Barcelona as the Spanish giants equalled the La Liga record of 38 games unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over Leganes. The previous record by was held Real Sociedad, across 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons, a record that Barca could yet break next week at home against Valencia.

Messi began the scoring when he curled home a stunning 30-yard free-kick before latching onto Philippe Coutinho’s through ball to make it 2-0.

Although Leganes winger Nabil el Zhar pulled one back Messi scored once more, this time from Ousmane Dembele’s pass to complete a 45th career hat-trick.

They are also just seven games from an unbeaten La Liga season, and were 12 points above Atletico Madrid for a brief moment.

Although Atletico could have reduced the deficit, the Madrid team were held to a stalemate against their neighbouring rivals Real.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a 10th consecutive match for Real when he volleyed home Gareth Bale’s left-wing cross for his 20th goal in 10 club appearances, but Atletico was able to respond through Antoine Griezmann, who equalised on the rebound after Vitolo’s shot was saved by Keylor Navas.

While it meant that Atletico would be four points above Real, they are eleven behind Barca.

It came as a surprise when Ronaldo was replaced by Karim Benzema for the final 26 minutes, perhaps with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Juventus in mind.

“We’ve got a lot of games and from time to time he has to rest,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. “He’s clever and there are times when you have to rest. Nowadays he needs it and every time it does him good.”

“I’m happy with the match and how we performed because we clearly deserved more. It was a shame we didn’t get more from it but we could have even lost the game at the end.”

Bayern rallies at Augsburg to secure sixth straight Bundesliga title

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Bayern Munich rallied after going behind to wrap up their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title with a 4-1 win over Augsburg.

Jupp Heynckes’ team needed a win at the Bavarian derby win to become champions with five games to spare.

They had trailed through Niklas Sule’s own goal but Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez set them on their way towards a 28th German championship.

Arjen Robben then converted Rodriguez’s cut-back and Sandro Wagner headed a fourth that essentially sealed the game.

Bayern, on course for a treble, had rested a host of players with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Sevilla in mind. Key players such as Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Thiago, Franck Ribery, Mats Hummels and Javi Martinez were all on the bench.

They had looked in trouble when Sven Ulreich’s parried save hit Sule and flew into their own net, but Tolisso headed in Joshua Kimmich’s cross and Rodriguez then smashed home from close range. Robben’s strong effort essentially sealed the game while Wagner finished the rout later.

The defending champions had been five points behind Borussia Dortmund when they lured Heynckes out of retirement in October — for his fourth spell as manager of the club — after sacking Carlo Ancelotti.

“I’ like to send my best wishes to Carlo Ancelotti in Italy,” said Heynckes. “This title is also for him. He is a fantastic coach.”

Heynckes, who is now 72, had not worked since 2013 when he led Bayern to the treble of Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup — and was then replaced by Pep Guardiola. This was his fourth title as Bayern boss, 29 years after the first.