Madrid players deserve respect - Zidane 'tired' of VAR controversy

By Sports Desk July 05, 2020

Zinedine Zidane feels his Real Madrid players deserve more respect as he is "tired" of their victories being attributed to refereeing decisions.

Madrid celebrated a seventh straight win on Sunday as they prevailed 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao, moving seven points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

However, their goal came courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, awarded only after a VAR review highlighted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain revealed his frustration at the call after the match, echoing comments from Barca's Gerard Pique, who suggested the officials were making it difficult to stop Madrid winning the title.

Zidane bristled at the accusations, though, telling a news conference: "I am tired of being told that we won because of the referees.

"This is not going to change. But the players deserve respect. Nothing is going to take away from our goal."

The head coach accepted Madrid were not at their best at San Mames, yet he pointed to a tough schedule which saw the leaders in action against Getafe as recently as Thursday.

"Our strength is what I like the most. We are showing our strength and our balance when we lose the ball," Zidane said. "We are doing very well.

"We have lacked brilliance in attack and we can improve, but most important is our defensive strength.

"[The problems in attack are due to] a little bit of everything. It can be something physical, too. We play every three days.

"But I don't think it is our own thing; I think it is something for all the teams. There is a lot of difference between the beginning and the end."

Talk is turning towards when Madrid might clinch the title, with just four games to play and Barca struggling for form.

But Zidane is not getting ahead of himself, adding: "Until it is mathematically won, we cannot relax and think about the title.

"We have shown our strength and our solidity, but I am not going to talk about it, even if you ask me every day, because I already have a lot of experience in my career, also as a player, and all the games are difficult.

"What I can say is that winning seven games out of seven is impressive."

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    All the major football leagues – the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Primera Liga; the NBA, Swimming, Super League Netball, everything was shut down for like four months.

    It was the same here in Jamaica. The ISSA Boys and Girls Champs, Red Stripe Premier League, everything. If it was classified as a sport, it was done.

    However, things gradually started to open back up.

    The EPL and the other major European football leagues found a way to complete their respective seasons even if it came at great expense. Massive levels of testing of players and support staff, as well as technical people to facilitate the broadcast of the matches, played in empty stadia.

    Players were quarantined in hotels and not allowed outside their respective bubbles in order to ensure that there was little chance that they or their teammates would become infected.

    Here in Jamaica, there is talk of getting the Red Stripe Premier League going again later this year.  That should present quite a challenge for the 12 teams in the league and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who will have to figure out how they are going to get things going while keeping the players and support staff safe.

    Will they quarantine players and staff? Where will they house them? Will fans be allowed into the stadia where the teams are playing? This latter issue could be a major factor in how teams will approach the season.

    In the absence of broadcast money and most likely corporate sponsorship, teams in the RSPL will depend heavily on gate receipts. However, with restrictions being placed on the number of supporters that will be allowed inside the stadia, how will teams stay afloat while still paying players and covering all the other costs associated with running a football franchise?

    Perhaps, the JFF and the 12 teams will be able to fashion some semblance of a season but for schoolboy football, things are a lot more uncertain. The situation is so tenuous that not even the JFF President Michael Ricketts can say for sure whether there will be a school-boy season.

    More than 40 teams contest the Manning Cup in Jamaica’s Corporate Area. Out in rural Jamaica, the magnitude of the undertaking is so much larger. More than a hundred schools are set to take part in the daCosta Cup competition.

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    On the face of it, I don’t think they can.

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo would have made Madrid favourites against Man City - Adebayor Cristiano Ronaldo would have made Madrid favourites against Man City - Adebayor

    Cristiano Ronaldo would have made Real Madrid favourites to overturn a first-leg deficit in their Champions League tie against Manchester City, according to Emmanuel Adebayor. 

    Los Blancos lost 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the last-16 clash at the back end of February, with the return meeting postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

    Madrid were outstanding when LaLiga resumed in June, though, winning 10 and drawing their final game en route to beating Barcelona to the title, their first since the 2016-17 season. 

    Former City and Madrid striker Adebayor says Zinedine Zidane's side still have the players capable of turning the tie around but the presence of Ronaldo – who won the Champions League four times with the Spanish club before departing for Juventus in 2018 – would have significantly increased their chances. 

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    "Madrid would have been favourites with Cristiano. Back then, they had Cristiano, who is a goal machine. He can make the difference at any moment and he would give the team 50 goals a season.  

    "They lost the first leg at home and it's going to be very difficult without the fans, against Manchester City, the city, the weather but it's not impossible. 

    "Madrid have players with a lot of experience like Marcelo, [Karim] Benzema, [Thibaut] Courtois and they are used to playing in big games like this one." 

    Adebayor believes Madrid did not fully appreciate how difficult it would be to replace a player such as Ronaldo, who became the club's record goalscorer during nine prolific seasons. 

    "Without Cristiano, Madrid know what they have lost, but maybe not what they could have won if he was still there," he added.  

    "I think maybe they thought they would get another player like Ronaldo but players like him only come along once every 200 years." 

    Karim Benzema has taken on much of the scoring burden and has surpassed 20 LaLiga goals in the past two seasons. 

    Adebayor says the French striker is crucial to Madrid, saying: "When Ronaldo left, he had to take up the responsibility and I think he's done really well.  

    "He's scored a lot of goals, important goals so he'll be a danger, no doubt about it." 

    Adebayor's stint in the Spanish capital was a short one and game time was limited under Jose Mourinho. However, he has nothing but fond memories of the Portuguese coach, describing him as the best ever. 

    "I love Mourinho, we had a great relationship and he was the one who brought me to Madrid, although it wasn't easy for him to find a place for me in the side," he said.  

    "The only trophy I have ever won was at Madrid with him. Now he's at Tottenham and I wish him the best of luck. He is the best coach in the history of football." 

  • Ramos can play until he's 40, says ex-Real Madrid team-mate Van der Vaart Ramos can play until he's 40, says ex-Real Madrid team-mate Van der Vaart

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    Ramos was very influential in helping Madrid end Barcelona's run of success in LaLiga, scoring 11 goals as Zinedine Zidane's squad were crowned champions for the first time since 2017. 

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    "When I was at Real Madrid, he was 21 or 22 and bursting with energy. He wanted to be everywhere. Free kicks, corner kicks, everywhere. 

    "Now it is different, he has so much focus now. A focus on winning and he uses all his talents for that purpose. He's aware of his skills, strength and conditioning and that helped him being so important for his team in winning already so many titles. His body is unbelievable, he is a machine. 

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    With LaLiga won, Madrid will now focus on potential European success as they return to Champions League action. 

    They need to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in their last-16 tie with Manchester City if they are to progress, with the remaining knockout rounds to be staged in Portugal, though Ramos will miss the match against Pep Guardiola's team at the Etihad Stadium due to suspension. 

    However, Madrid have been outstanding since the season restarted in Spain midway through June, and Van der Vaart expects a "really interesting" return clash with City, who finished second in the Premier League. 

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    Van der Vaart was speaking as part of a Europa League Trophy Tour that has been collecting football boots from fans for Syrian refugees based in Jordan, a cause the former Netherlands international is passionate about. 

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