The terrified scarecrow: Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane must win the match of fear against Galatasaray Tuesday in Istanbul (21:00 / 19:00 GMT), history to remove the specter of elimination in the group phase of the Champions League which would be a sad first.
In 23 participations in the first round of the modern C1 (since 1992), the "White House" has qualified 23 times for the knockout phase, a record.
Can the ogre to the thirteen European kings know the humiliation of an unprecedented outing? Nothing is excluded after the worst start in Madrid in the group stage: a heavy defeat 3-0 in Paris and a 2-2 draw against Club Bruges have complicated his chances in Group A.
With a point in two days, the team merengue is last in the pool behind PSG (6 pts), Bruges (2 pts) and Galatasaray (1 pt). And the double confrontation against the Turkish club, Tuesday in Istanbul and then on November 6 in Madrid, promises to leave or double.
"We know what is at stake. We have to play this game to win it, there is no other way out," Zidane admitted this weekend.
- "A little anxiety" -
His team does not seem at best after a disastrous defeat against the Mallorca promoted Saturday in Liga (1-0).
This surprise setback sent Real to his demons from last season, completed by a knockout in the knockout stages against Ajax Amsterdam (2-1, 1-4): concentration problems, defensive misses and offensive clumsiness, all the symptoms of a team that doubts.
"I wonder if we did not have a little anxiety," Zidane said Saturday.
Returning to the controls in March haloed his three C1 conquered during his first term (2016-2018), the French coach knows that a new cons-performance Tuesday would reduce the chances of qualifying his team. And that an early elimination would be a resounding industrial accident for the club with the most revenue in the world according to Deloitte (822.1 million euros of forecast turnover this season).
"Real Madrid is in real danger of finishing in the Europa League," the Madrid sports daily Marca teased, referring to the third group place which is worth to be donated to the "small" European Cup.
- Faith against fear -
In Mallorca, the rotation of staff that had been so successful in "ZZ" during his first mandate this time did not work: the recruits of the offseason, in a summer market where Real has invested more than 300 million EUR, still struggling to win, like the Serbian striker Luka Jovic.
To make matters worse, Real has let the Baleares escape his invincibility in La Liga and his first place in the ranking, now occupied by FC Barcelona. The only relief is the postponement of the clasico against Barcelona, initially scheduled for next Saturday but postponed due to violence in Catalonia ...
In the fervor of Istanbul, difficult to know what face Real will show Tuesday, even if several executives left to rest this weekend, like Raphael Varane or Eden Hazard, should strengthen the starting lineup. Toni Kroos is uncertain. As for Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, injured, they will not be traveling ...
Then the great Real relies on the aura of Zidane, the character of Sergio Ramos, in the form of Karim Benzema, indisputable leader of attack and fourth-leading scorer in the history of the Champions League (60 goals) .
The fans also want to believe in the mystical relationship between the "White House" and its fetish competition, which it has won more than anybody else ... Faith against fear, the Madrid experience against Turkish passion, the end of the woes or the beginning of the end.
© 2019 AFP