Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos comes out in defence of Zidane
Asked about the possibility of José Mourinho returning to Real Madrid yesterday, Sergio Ramos pretty much recoiled in horror. I'm not surprised: I feel the same aversion to the idea, and I didn't have to put up with him in person. Nevertheless, the spectre of Mourinho hangs over Madrid whenever the going gets tough, because Florentino Pérez can't forget about him. And right now the going is getting tough rather frequently. To top things off, Mourinho is available at the moment and, though he has said only polite things when asked about replacing Zinedine Zidane, speculation remains rife - and has not been quelled by the only man with the power to do so: Pérez. He'd rather keep Zidane on his toes, I guess. That's the state of affairs at Madrid as Los Blancos head into what is a crunch clash with Galatasaray.
Real Madrid face do-or-die Istanbul assignment
It's a crunch clash not because Galatasaray are any great shakes, but because Madrid have just the one point to their name after two Champions League games. Under the veteran coach Fatih Terim, Galatasaray are side stuffed with new faces and players of advancing years, and have endured a stuttering start to the season. However, Madrid know their European campaign will be toast if they lose; hence their unease. Not only that, but the Turks always inspire a degree of apprehension. Ever since Suleiman reached the gates of Vienna, they have aroused a sense of trepidation that could not even be cured by the Ottomans' defeat at the Battle of Lepanto, described by Cervantes in Don Quixote as "the grandest occasion the past or present has seen, or the future can hope to see".
So it's a game with plenty riding on it. Terim might not be getting it right, but Zidane isn't, either. Pérez brought him back with promises of greater authority, but they were quickly forgotten. He didn't get him Paul Pogba, and in fact weakened his midfield by clearing the decks to justify the player's arrival. On top of that, Gareth Bale has broken down again, picking up another mystery injury that has gone unexplained by the club; giving out such info is pretty much taboo to them. On the plus side, though, Madrid do have leadership at the back in Ramos and up front in Karim Benzema, a player who has not only upped his game but also his sense of responsibility. Add in Casemiro's midfield steel and one or two other things, and they really should have enough in Istanbul. Under normal circumstances, at least.
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