REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Casemiro backs Zidane ahead of Champions League clash

Casemiro insists the players are behind under-pressure boss Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid face a make-or-break Champions League clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach.

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Real Madrid: Casemiro backs Zidane ahead of Gladbach clash

Real Madrid's squad are firmly behind Zinedine Zidane as they aim to avoid a hugely embarrassing Champions League exit, says Casemiro.

Madrid have become accustomed to success in Europe's premier club competition under Zidane, having lifted the trophy three times during his first spell in charge. 

Real Madrid head into final round of fixtures lying third in Champions League Group B

However, the reigning LaLiga champions were dumped out at the last-16 stage last season, going down 4-2 on aggregate to Manchester City, and are in serious danger of failing to make it out of their group for the first time ever.

Los Blancos sit third in the table going into the final round of fixtures, when they will play host to leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Spanish capital on Wednesday. 

Having also faltered in the early stages of their title defence, Zidane's future has come into serious question – and missing out on the knockout rounds would only increase speculation he could be set for the sack. 

"The team is with the coach" - Casemiro backs Zidane

Midfielder Casemiro, however, insists the under-pressure head coach retains the faith of his players. "What am I going to say about Zidane? He has made history, last year he won two trophies. Many times, we don't realise what Zidane has done," the Brazil international said

"The season is strange, it's true. The pre-season was not good and playing every two or three days is difficult. The team is with the coach. And I value what he has done and what he is doing." 

Madrid have only lost one of their previous five meetings with Gladbach in European competition, albeit three of those fixtures have ended in draws. 

Real Madrid preparing for "most important game of the year"

Zidane has only failed to make it out of the group stage once in his entire career, back in 2000 when he played for Juventus. Casemiro is confident Madrid will not suffer a similar fate this season, as they prepare for the game as if it were a final. 

"We know that tomorrow is the most important game of the year," he told the media. "We all know that tomorrow is a final. We have to face it as if it were a final

"We've been taught at this club that you don't play finals, you win them. We're not thinking about anything other than winning. 

"We know there is a good opponent and they're top of the group, so we have to respect that. But, we're going out to win." 

As for Gladbach, the Bundesliga club are looking to reach the Champions League knockout phase for the first time at the third attempt, having previously failed to do so in 2015-16 and 2016-17.