REAL MADRID | MORIENTES
"Morientes likens Zidane's Madrid to the 'Séptima' side"
"We ploughed all of our energies into the Champions League and it worked out well", the former Real Madrid striker reasoned.
Former Real Madrid and Spain striker Fernando Morientes feels that there are some similarities between Zidane's Real Madrid and the sides which conquered Europe in 1998 and 2000, which he formed part of. "The are some similarities between the current Madrid and and those which I experienced myself in the sides which won 'La Séptima' and 'La Octava'" Morientes, now coaching Fuenlabrada reasoned. "In the league, those teams were not so solid but we channelled all of our energies into the Champions League and it worked out well. There even came a moment when we decided to let the league go by the wayside because we knew that it was a completely lost cause; that allowed us to focus all of our efforts and all of our interest into Europe".
Morientes insists that Madrid should not be judged now but "when the season's over" and made a plea to all madridistas for "patience and calm". He asked: "If it worked for us once or twice before, it can work out well for us again, why not?". Zidane's side are well positioned to make the quarter finals of this year's Champions League, taking a two-goal advantage into next week's Last 16 return leg against Roma at the Bernabéu.
Madrid went into the 1998 Champions League final after having finished 4th in the league, 11 points behind champions Barcelona and with the prospect of qualifying for the Champions via the Third Round Play-Offs. The team collected their seventh European crown beating Juventus in Amsterdam. Two years later, the situation was even worse - Deportivo took the league and Madrid ended fifth, on 62 points and outside of the Champions League qualifying berths.
Morientes also gave his thoughts on the fans' unhappiness - some of whom have turned on president Florentino Pérez. "When the situation is negative, like it is at the moment at Real Madrid some internal reflexion is required", he suggested.
As for Cristiano Ronaldo's comments on his team mates not being at their best level Morientes said: "Maybe he didn't quite say it in the way he meant but once he came out to clarify his words, the whole issue was resolved. To be honest, when I first heard what Cristiano said, it did take me aback a bit but he explained himself quickly afterwards to underline what he was really trying to say and I think that's cleared up the matter. If Zidane had come out with something like that during my time, I think everyone would have respected his words for the player he was.
"Likewise, for who he is, Cristiano deserves respect from all of the players he plays alongside. Whenever Real Madrid ae in a delicate moment, people look for problems to stoke the situation even more. I prefer to look back at Cristiano's career and the figures he's reached - they speak for themselves", he continued. "If I had got close to the kind of figures Cristiano has recorded with Reaol Madrid, I would have been extremely happy. Cristiano is an exmaple for all of us, not just for the individual awards he has won but also for the successes he has achieved collectively".
César Sánchez: "I don't think Cristiano was intentionally having a go at his team mates"
Ex-Madrid keeper César Sánchez agrees with Morientes. "Looking at what he said in context, I don't think he was intentionally badmouthing his colleagues. I'm sure that his level of Spanish hasn't helped him to get what he wanted to say across. But I think he's done the right thing in coming out to explain what he really wanted to say if some people took it the wrong way", César said today. "Maybe the moment wasn't quite right. I heard it live and at the time, I didn't think there was any malice in what he said".
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