Zidane expects Real to hit back against Spurs in Wembley debut
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he thrives in adversity and believes their first ever trip to Wembley Stadium to face Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday can help the Spanish giants shake off the hangover of a sticky start to the season.
A shock 2-1 defeat at Catalan side Girona on Sunday left the Liga champions eight points behind arch rivals Barcelona, having drawn two and lost two of their opening 10 domestic league games as they struggle to retain the Spanish title.
They will be without first choice keeper Keylor Navas, centre back Raphael Varane, right back Dani Carvajal and former Spurs forward Gareth Bale when they face the London side in the Champions league under the iconic Wembley arch.
Defeat could leave Real facing the prospect of finishing as runners-up in Group H, but Zidane is not dwelling on the current sticky patch and is turning the dip in form into a positive.
"We are feeling good and ready to perform well against a great team in Tottenham Hotspur," the former Real player told reporters at Spurs' temporary Wembley home, which they are using while they build a new stadium at their White Hart lane ground.
"Personally I always have the same hopes, the same motivation when I go about my job. After a defeat of course people aren't happy but in some ways I like this. I like having the motivation of a big match to get back to winning ways.
"I think when the going gets tough it's when I work my best. There will always be hard moments but it's important to always trust and come back stronger.
"It is not without its complications in the build-up but we are prepared to go out and do our job. Rest assured, the players are going to be very well prepared for this match."
Real, European champions two years in a row, were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Tottenham at the Bernabeu two weeks ago and Zidane is looking forward to another tactical duel with Tottenham's Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino.
"Pochettino has done exceptional work with Tottenham, I think very highly of him," Zidane said. "He is doing a fantastic job at Tottenham, with the team and also building a club that now has very high aspirations.
"You don't need me to say it, results speak for themselves."
Real have never played at Wembley and Zidane, who graced the original stadium as a player, says it provides the perfect stage for his players to bounce back from the weekend defeat.
"Wembley is an important place in the football world. It's a great stage to play on against great opposition," he said.
"Of course the players approach every match with the same mentality to win. But it's a beautiful stadium and will be a great spectacle.
"Wembley represents a lot in the football world but for me what is more important is that two great teams are coming up against each other."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)