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Zidane appeals for calm as Real stunned by Wolfsburg

By Reuters - Apr 07,2016 - Last updated at Apr 07,2016

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, first-leg football match between VfL Wolfsburg and Real Madrid on Wednesday in Wolfsburg, Germany (Reuters photo by Fabian Bimmer)

WOLFSBURG/ PARIS — Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane urged his side to remain calm after their Champions League hopes suffered a setback with a shock 2-0 loss at VfL Wolfsburg in the first leg of their quarter-final tie on Wednesday.

The Frenchman, who took over from the sacked Rafael Benitez in January, said the 10 times European Cup winners could still turn the tie around in Madrid next week against Wolfsburg, who are playing in their first quarter-final.

“It is always disappointing to lose a Champions League game, especially the way we lost it,” he told reporters. “But we need to remain calm and united.

“We won’t go crazy now. We have to believe and know that we have a difficult game and see if we can turn it around. That is what happens when you don’t play with intensity.

“We have to rest and think about the return leg because we have the chance to change everything,” added Zidane, who won the title with the Spanish club as a player in 2002.

Real went into the game buoyed by their 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the “Clasico” on Saturday and knowing the Champions League remains their best hope of silverware this season.

Zidane had seemingly turned Real’s season around after winning six successive matches in all competitions before Wednesday, but despite a strong start to the game, they suffered their first defeat in the competition this season.

Two goals in seven minutes from Ricardo Rodriguez and Maximilian Arnold gave the hosts a two-goal cushion after Real had pegged the Germans back early in the first half.

“I think it was the first half that caused us problems,” Zidane said. “We were missing concentration at times, just things that happen in football, mistakes that you end up regretting.

“We did it better in the second half. Before the game the chances were 50-50 but now we must use all opportunities to turn things around and make everything well in the return leg.

“We lost this first leg, we are aware of that. But we have the chance to turn it around next week. We have 90 minutes and we will be prepared well to take on that task.”

Ibrahimovic rues missed chances 

Nothing usually fazes an ice cool Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the Sweden striker was taken aback when he failed to score a penalty during Paris St Germain’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.

According to statistics published last year by French sports daily L’Equipe, Ibrahimovic, along with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, has the best success rate from the spot over the last 10 years in the five big leagues.

Hence when the Swede’s 14th minute penalty strike was denied by Joe Hart, the keeper he beat four times in 2012 when Sweden tamed England 4-2 in a friendly, he was not amused.

“We made avoidable mistakes,” Ibrahimovic told reporters.

“There was this penalty that I missed, that’s the way it is.”

Ibrahimovic somehow made up for his error when he equalised four minutes before the break but he also missed a great chance.

The forward was not the sole culprit as PSG failed to dominate the way they usually do, which came as another surprise to Ibrahimovic.

“We felt attacked like rarely in the past,” he conceded.

A first semifinal since 1995 still looks possible for PSG but they will have to do much better.

“We still have hope, we always have hope,” said Ibrahimovic.

“We are strong and confident but we will have to do better, much better in the second leg.”

 

PSG have failed to make it past the last eight of the Champions League in the last three seasons. 

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