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Zidane slams Madrid critics’ jealousy over UCL penalty decision

zinedine zidane

Real Madrid FC coach Zinedine Zidane has expressed disgust at talks that his side supposedly benefitted from a robbery as they eliminated Juventus from the quarter-finals of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. He revealed that though the statement riles him up, it’s down to jealousy on the part of those who don’t want to see Real Madrid succeed.

Juventus were in the driving seat in the second leg of their UCL quarter-final encounter having unexpectedly gone three goals up at the Santiago Bernabeu to tie the aggregate at 3:3. However, the referee on the night and Englishman Michael Oliver awarded a penalty to Real in the dying minutes of the game after a foul on Vazquez by Benatia. Cristiano Ronaldo subsequently converted the spot kick to keep Madrid on course for a third consecutive UCL triumph, as well as a possible fourth UCL trophy in five years, although they now have the hurdle of Bundesliga Champions, Bayern Munich to cross.

The call by Michael Oliver has generated much controversy, as the media has made the incident the sole talking point from the encounter. The word ‘robbery‘ has been used to describe the call and it’s no surprise that the Catalan daily Sport was among the media outlets to use the word.

Real Madrid face Malaga this weekend, and the pre-match press conference for the game was dominated by questions on the refereeing decision and incident of the UCL night. The questions were with regards to the supposed “anti-madridista” tone being employed by the media in their coverage of the incident.

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“Everybody can give their own opinions, whether it is a penalty or not,” Zidane said. “But when people talk about ‘robberies’ I get indignant. I think what we are doing annoys many people. There are anti-madridistas, we cannot change that, we can only just keep doing what we are doing. Nobody can change the history of this club, no matter what is written or said, it is the best club in the world. And when you are the best, it creates jealousy.”

When asked if hatred for Madrid was the major driving force of critics of the referee’s call in favor of the Los Blancos, Zidane seemed to agree.

“People are a bit obsessed [with Madrid], but we can do nothing about that,” he said. “All we can do is our own work, try and prepare well. We try and remain outside. It was not that Juventus were the better team, and were robbed. We think we played well and deserved over the two games to go through.”

When asked if Gianluigi Buffon’s sending off on the night after confronting the referee bore any resemblance to his own sending off in the 2006 World Cup final, he declined to answer, only saying that he could understand Buffon’s frustration on the night.

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“What Buffon said, he said,” Zidane said. “It is a heated moment, even if it was a little bit later. We must accept his feelings. We deserved to go through to the semis, which is what interests me most.”

“No, just the opposite,” he said. “The other day they played a great game. We did not play badly, but when we did not take our chances to score, we got a bit anxious. In the end the game went as it did. But I liked it – it was very exciting, and in the end we went through.”

Meanwhile, only one question concerning Madrid’s trip to Malaga in the La Liga was raised. It’s a game where Zidane might possibly rest the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.

“There is always an enormous effort in a big Champions League game, but we are ready now for La Liga,” he said. “Malaga are bottom of the table, and maybe do not deserve that from the games I have seen. We know it will be difficult, they will give everything against us. We must be ready to try and get the points.”