Warsaw: Zinedine Zidane takes charge of his 100th match as a coach when Real Madrid face Legia Warsaw behind closed doors in Poland on Wednesday seeking to seal their place in the Champions League last 16.
The holders haven’t tasted defeat in any competition in 26 games since April as Zidane’s first season as a senior coach ended in glorious fashion by winning Real’s 11th European Cup.
However, the Frenchman insisted he still has much to learn after just 10 months in the job following a season and a half in charge of Real’s reserve team Castilla.
“Everything can be improved. I am happy for the 100 games, but I need to continue in the same fashion. There is always a lot to learn,” Zidane said yesterday.
“I like what I do and hopefully I can continue for a long time at this club.”
Zidane has won 33 of his 42 matches since replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez in January with seven draws and just two defeats.
However, despite an unbeaten start to this season, Real have rarely hit top form with a leaky defence Zidane’s biggest concern.
Madrid haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last 10 games and will be without first choice defensive pairing of captain Sergio Ramos and Pepe for at least their next two matches against Legia and Leganes on Sunday.
“That doesn’t worry me,” claimed Zidane. “It is true that in every game we are conceding a goal, but in football you can’t control everything.” Victory over the Polish champions will secure Madrid’s place in the knockout phase for the 20th consecutive season as long as Sporting Lisbon don’t win away at Borussia Dortmund.
However, Real face the unusual surroundings of an empty stadium as Legia were sanctioned by UEFA for violence and racist chanting during their 6-0 thrashing by Dortmund in September.
“We have to play without fans, but we are going to prepare for the game in the same way because the important thing is the three points,” added Zidane.
Marcelo and James Rodriguez have been left back in Madrid as youngsters Alvaro Tejero and Mariano make up Zidane’s 19-man squad.
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to form in style with his first hat-trick of the season in a 4-1 win at Alaves on Sunday and will lead the line along with Gareth Bale, fresh from signing one of the most lucrative deals in the history of the game to tie his future to Madrid until 2022.
Ronaldo will have his eye on edging towards another incredible career milestone as he is just five off 100 goals in the Champions League. AFP
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