Madrid, Spain | THE INDEPENDENT | Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane faces the first of three vital games that will decide his future at the club when his side travel to play Sevilla on Saturday afternoon.
Real Madrid make the trip to the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium after a dreadful week that saw them beaten 2-1 at home to Alaves and lose 2-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk and needing to beat Borussia Monchengladbach next Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Zidane’s side were poor against Alaves and shambolic against Shakhtar and the coach will certainly lose his job if they are knocked out of the Champions League, but a poor display away to Sevilla could see the ax fall sooner rather than later.
The good news for Zidane is that Sergio Ramos is back in full training after his hamstring injury and so important is Ramos that he will almost certainly start on Saturday.
It is not just that Ramos is still Madrid’s best defender, but his personality is also key to getting the best out of his teammates.
Zidane will have to decide whether to rest Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but with Fede Valverde still out, his options are limited. However, Casemiro looks certain to be back in the starting 11 after his surprising absence in midweek.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Zidane remained upbeat, saying it was normal for speculation about his future when things were not going well.
“We all know the situation, but we want to compete and it is another chance for us to change things. I have a lot of confidence in my players,” he said, adding that although the situation was “complicated… We have come through similar situations many times,”
The coach told reporters he had received the full backing of “the club and everyone: although I can’t be happy when we lose a game and neither can the players, we know we are lucky to be here and to be able to give everything for the club.”
Sevilla have moved to fifth in the table – a point behind Real Madrid with one less game played, after winning their last three league games and although they lost 4-0 at home to Chelsea on Wednesday, coach Julen Lopetegui rested seven first-team regulars and with his side assured of their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, the former Spain and Real Madrid boss will field his strongest possible side.