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By October 31, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • Zidane insists 'I'm no fatalist' as Real Madrid target crucial win at Inter Zidane insists 'I'm no fatalist' as Real Madrid target crucial win at Inter

    Zinedine Zidane insists Real Madrid will go to Inter to win despite injuries and a run of three victories in eight games placing the Spanish champions under scrutiny.

    Madrid are third in Champions League Group B, a point above the Nerazzurri, after winning the reverse fixture 3-2.

    A second group win of the season would put them in a strong position to progress, but they head to San Siro without captain Sergio Ramos, midfielder Federico Valverde or striker Karim Benzema.

    Madrid are also coming off the back of a 4-1 loss to Valencia and a 1-1 draw at Villarreal in their previous two LaLiga matches, while they have only won twice in their past seven games in Europe.

    Yet Zidane is not prepared to set his side out simply to avoid defeat despite the precarious nature of both the group and his squad of available players.

    "No, we always go out to win, we always want to win," he said. "We can't think about drawing or losing. All I'm telling you is the most important thing is to give everything on the pitch. We always go out onto the pitch to win.

    "Football is physical and mental and the mental part is just as important. My analysis is: this is football. There are moments you are very strong and you can bounce back and there are more difficult moments, like the general situation is now in this world we live in. It's correct we're going through a lower period.

    "It was a difficult game but it's not just Real Madrid. I think every team has had difficulties in this season.

    "The team started and ended the game well [against Inter] but it was difficult because we're playing very good teams. Against Villarreal, the same happened.

    "Winning the game until the 74th, 75th minute, but in one play, which can happen, they scored a goal. I'm not a fatalist; I just think this is part of football. We try to work and get better, which is key. We try not to concede and to score goals ourselves."

    The loss of Ramos is a particular concern as Madrid have suffered seven defeats in the past eight Champions League matches the centre-back has missed.

    "We know how important he is as a player, but we have to break this statistic," Zidane said. "Obviously, we'd like him to be here, but he's injured.

    "We're going to try to change that bad record because it's a final, it's three points, we know the situation in the group and we'll have to suffer, fight hard, but we're ready for it."

    Isco is part of the squad despite his agent suggesting the midfielder wants a move in January, but Zidane was not prepared to discuss the topic.

    "I'm not going to talk about rumours. Right now, he is our player and we're happy with him," he said.

  • Guardiola still 'fully optimistic' struggling City can have successful season Guardiola still 'fully optimistic' struggling City can have successful season

    Pep Guardiola was expecting Manchester City to start the new campaign on top form but insists "the season is still so young" as his team instead toil in the bottom half of the Premier League.

    City are in Champions League action against Olympiacos on Wednesday, looking to advance to the last 16 with a fourth straight victory.

    As well as delivering another result on the European stage, though, Guardiola recognises the match is important to "recover our feelings" after another painful outing in the Premier League.

    City went down 2-0 at early leaders Tottenham on Saturday and now lie 13th in the table, already eight points off the pace with a game in hand to play.

    A return of 12 points from eight games is City's worst start to a league season since 2008-09 (10 points), while their failings in attack are particularly concerning, netting just 10 times - a low since scoring six times in eight matches in 2006-07.

    Guardiola is confident his side will turn their fortunes around, though, explaining: "I had a feeling we would do really well this season. I don't know why [we haven't].

    "From the beginning, I expected a reaction after how we finished the last season against Lyon in Portugal. I have a good feeling.

    "We know what we have to do. We are a team who last season scored a lot and now we are struggling.

    "I have to find a solution, to find the right way to attack more fluently and have the feeling that we can score goals. But in the way we play, I'm quite good, quite happy.

    "There are little details still we have to improve, conceding penalties that are unnecessary, sometimes we miss clear chances we have to score.

    "But the moment will break. In one or two games, this kind of thing will get better. The season is still so young and I'm fully optimistic we're going to do a good season."

    Guardiola is also willing to stay patient with record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who watched on from the bench at Spurs as City had 22 shots without finding the net.

    Aguero suffered a knee injury in June and has played just 110 minutes in the league so far this season, attempting a single shot that failed to hit the target.

    "We want him to come back," Guardiola said. "Today he trained again. That he can recover a good feeling in his knee is the most important thing.

    "I know it is not easy [being] injured but we wait for him and it's a step at a time.

    "We still have many, many games this season to play and we will need him. We want him to recover and be back in the best condition."

    In the meantime, new signing Ferran Torres has taken on a striking role, still waiting on his first Premier League goal but scoring three times in three matches in the Champions League.

    Another goal against Olympiacos would make him just the third City player - after Aguero and Raheem Sterling - to net in four straight games in the competition.

    Torres said of his responsibility to the team: "Obviously we have had a few injuries of our strikers in the squad.

    "But I think we are scoring goals as a team - probably not as many as we would like but we are also facing difficult opponents as well, so it's difficult.

    "We are working hard as a team to sort that out and I am confident that the goals will arrive.

    "Playing as a striker is not my natural position but I feel very comfortable playing there. I am also scoring goals so it is good.

    "When you work hard and make sacrifices for the team, you get your rewards, so I am trying to work hard to keep scoring goals."

  • Klopp hails Firmino for 'super game' as Liverpool forward stars Klopp hails Firmino for 'super game' as Liverpool forward stars

    Jurgen Klopp praised Roberto Firmino for a "super game" after Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leicester City in the Premier League.

    Firmino headed in the sealer at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool extended their unbeaten league run at home to a club record 64 games.

    Often criticised, Firmino scored his second goal of the season and the Brazilian's 48 passes, 41 successful passes and six shots were the most he has managed in any Premier League game this campaign.

    Klopp hailed the forward and said he was pleased to see the 29-year-old also get on the scoresheet, heading in James Milner's 86th-minute corner.

    "We were really happy and relieved. He deserved it so much. He played a super game, he played a super game and was so important for us again," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

    "You could see in the face of all the players when he scored that everybody thought, 'Yes, exactly the right goalscorer'."

    Firmino's goal came after Diogo Jota doubled Liverpool's lead following Jonny Evans' 21st-minute own goal.

    Klopp was proud of his players for setting a club record with their unbeaten league run at home, but said it was something he would reflect on at another time.

    "Look, my problem is that in the moment I spoke so much about football, I have so much to think about how we can play the next game and things like this," he said.

    "So, it doesn't feel it. Maybe it's not right but there will be a moment, for sure, in the future when I think back – and hopefully it will be a different number and not only 64.

    "It's absolutely incredible, but it's all about the boys. It's really difficult to achieve something like this but when you think about how tight a lot of games were then it doesn't happen just like this. You have to really dig in for that and the boys did that.

    "I said it a few times before, we really enjoy playing here. It's our ground, it's our home, everything feels home – even when the people are not here. It doesn't feel right but we have to do it and we are happy that we can play.

    "So, what the boys put out there on the pitch performance-wise is absolutely incredible and it's the only reason for the number. Obviously it's pretty tricky and pretty difficult to set records for this incredible club because our fathers or grandfathers, they were obviously pretty good. So having this record now, I'm happy for the players but it doesn't feel like a big moment, to be honest, because we play on Wednesday and that's actually my only concern at the moment."

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