Criticisers jealous of Real Madrid’s legacy, says Zidane

Spanish giants’ coach says criticism on team ‘disgraceful, upsetting and deceptive’


Afp April 15, 2018
LAST-GASP VICTORY: Real sneaked into the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday after English referee Michael Oliver awarded the 12-time champions a controversial penalty in added-on time. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID/ MILAN: Zinedine Zidane believes the negative reaction to Real Madrid's last-gasp win over Juventus has been "disgraceful, upsetting and deceptive", and borne out of jealousy towards the European champions.

Real sneaked into the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday after English referee Michael Oliver awarded the 12-time champions a controversial penalty in added-on time.

Cristiano Ronaldo held his nerve to send his side through 4-3 on aggregate after Juve had staged a remarkable comeback, levelling the tie by leading 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gianluigi Buffon launched a scathing attack on Oliver after the match while sections of the Italian and Spanish press were also criticial of Real's victory.

Corriere dello Sport, a daily sports newspaper in Rome, led with the headline 'Che Furto', meaning 'What A Theft', while Sport, the Barcelona daily, carried 'El Robo Del Siglo' on its front page, 'The Theft Of The Century'.

Zidane, however, maintains his team fully deserved to go through.

"When people talk about it being a robbery I get angry — it is clear what we are doing annoys a lot of people," Zidane said on Saturday. "There are people that are anti-Real Madrid, but nobody is going to change that. Nobody can change the history of this club, what it has achieved. We are the best club in the world and when you're the best club in the world, there is a certain degree of jealousy."

Zidane added: "To be honest I think it is disgraceful, upsetting and deceptive. Anyone who says it was a robbery, I really don't agree."

Real will now face German champions Bayern Munich in the semis, in a repeat of last year's quarter-final, which Los Blancos won 6-3 on aggregate.

"I think they are an even better team this season than last," Zidane said. "No team will have the upper hand, maybe us playing the return leg at home, but I would say the tie is evenly balanced, 50-50."

No regrets for Buffon over referee rant

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon insists he has no regrets about his outburst against the referee who awarded the late penalty that put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals.

"I'd say them all again. Maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let's say. But the content remains and I stand by all of it," Buffon told Italian television programme "Le Iene".

He continued: "I have to defend my teammates and fans, even in a not very composed fashion. I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation. You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive, but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon.”

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