Wed, 09 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

Zidane confident Real will see off Juventus

Agencies, Madrid

Real Madrid midfielder Zinedine Zidane believes his side is in a much stronger position going into the second leg of it Champions League knockout round clash with Juventus than two years ago.

In the 2003 semifinal Real beat the Italians 2-1 in the first leg, only to lose 3-1 in the return in Turin.

This time the nine-time European champions goes into the second leg holding a 1-0 advantage after the first game.

"We are in a better position this time round than two years ago, because Juve haven't scored an away goal," the Frenchman told a news conference on Monday.

"We will go there with the aim of scoring and that will make life difficult for them.

"They have to come out and attack and that is much better for us because the game will be more open. The important thing for us will be to match their strong start and to do that we will have to be very alert.

"But if half an hour goes by and they don't score, then I'm convinced we will go on to score and win."

Zidane, 32, has missed Real's last two league games because of a groin injury, but insisted that he was fully recovered and ready to face his old side.

Real captain Raul and England striker Michael Owen were both back in full training after recovering from illness and were included in the squad for the trip to Turin.

The line-up in training suggested that Raul will partner Ronaldo in attack, while Owen will start on the bench.

England captain David Beckham also trained normally despite complaining of back pain after Real's 1-1 draw at Valencia on Saturday.

In another Champions League match on Wednesday, Arsenal's leaky defense must somehow repel Bayern Munich.

The London side has been shorn of injured center back Sol Campbell since February 1 and without him they have looked suspect at the back, conceding three goals in the first leg of the first knockout round tie in Munich.

A late goal by Kolo Toure gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope -- a 3-1 deficit means they can win 2-0 at Highbury and progress -- yet they are a shadow of the side which went through the last league season unbeaten.

There are few in English soccer outside the Arsenal dressing room who believe the home side can survive 90 minutes against a well-organized Bayern team without conceding a goal, even if the Germans will be without injured striker Roy Makaay.

Despite the obvious problems, manager Arsene Wenger remains confident.

"Wednesday's game will be more about mental strength. We must regroup, relax and show resilience," said Wenger. "I'm sure we can do it."