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Zidane begins second coming with Real against Celta
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  • 14 Mar 19
  • Soccer
  • 4
Soccer Football - Real Madrid Press Conference - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - March 11, 2019   New Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during the press conference   REUTERS/Susana Vera 691px 444px Soccer Football - Real Madrid Press Conference - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - March 11, 2019 New Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during the press conference REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) - Zinedine Zidane takes charge of his first game since making an astonishing return to Real Madrid on Saturday against Celta Vigo which is set to be a de facto audition for next season for many of the team's underperforming players.

Having sacked Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari for a series of embarrassing results, Real have decided to turn again to the former midfield great who won an unprecedented three Champions League titles in a row before resigning last May.

But Zidane made it clear in his presentation that sweeping changes must be made for his second coming to be a success, meaning many in his squad will be playing for their futures against Celta and in the other 10 remaining league games.

With Real out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey and sitting third in La Liga, 12 points behind leaders Barcelona, the only purpose for the remainder of the season is for Zidane to assess which players he wants to keep as he plots the team's comeback in the next campaign.

Veteran defender Marcelo and Wales forward Gareth Bale are the most high profile names whose futures look uncertain under Zidane, while Dani Ceballos, Marco Asensio and Toni Kroos all have points to prove to their returning coach.

One player who could benefit from Zidane's comeback is Isco, who was outcast from the team by Solari, repeatedly left out of the Argentine's squad for games even when the team was suffering from an injury crisis, as they will be against Celta.

Zidane will be without old favourites Casemiro, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez against Celta as well as new kid on the block Vinicius Jr, who has become the club's great hope but is not expected to return from injury until May.

He also faces an intriguing choice in goal, as the Frenchman frequently fought the corner of Costa Rican Keylor Navas, his keeper for each of the three Champions League triumphs who has since been usurped by Thibaut Courtois, who arrived at the club after Zidane had left.

Atletico Madrid meanwhile must shake off the gloom of their chastening Champions League elimination to Juventus when they visit Athletic Bilbao hoping to keep up their chase of Barcelona, who they trail by seven points.

Barca, the only Spanish team left in the Champions League, are in action on Sunday away to Real Betis, who pulled of a shock 4-3 win at the Nou Camp in November and are the last team to beat the Catalans in the league.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

2018 English PL Fixtures & Results

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2018/2019 Premier League
2018/2019 UEFA Champions League
2018/2019 UEFA Europa League
2018/2019 A-League
2018/2019 Ligue 1
2018/2019 Bundesliga
2018/2019 La Liga
2018/2019 Primeira Liga
2017/2018 Serie A
2018 World Cup
2018 English PL Standings

CHoose a series

  • Group
  • e
Pts P W D L GF GA +/- Pts
1 Manchester City MAC 98 38 32 2 4 95 23 +72 98
2 Liverpool LIV 97 38 30 7 1 89 22 +67 97
3 Chelsea CHE 72 38 21 9 8 63 39 +24 72
4 Tottenham Hotspur TOT 71 38 23 2 13 67 39 +28 71
5 Arsenal ARS 70 38 21 7 10 73 51 +22 70
6 Manchester United MUN 66 38 19 9 10 65 54 +11 66
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers WOL 57 38 16 9 13 47 46 +1 57
8 Everton EVE 54 38 15 9 14 54 46 +8 54
9 Leicester City LEI 52 38 15 7 16 51 48 +3 52
10 West Ham United WES 52 38 15 7 16 52 55 -3 52
11 Watford WAT 50 38 14 8 16 52 59 -7 50
12 Crystal Palace CRY 49 38 14 7 17 51 53 -2 49
13 Newcastle United NEW 45 38 12 9 17 42 48 -6 45
14 AFC Bournemouth BOU 45 38 13 6 19 56 70 -14 45
15 Burnley BUR 40 38 11 7 20 45 68 -23 40
16 Southampton SOU 39 38 9 12 17 45 65 -20 39
17 Brighton & Hove Albion BRI 36 38 9 9 20 35 60 -25 36
18 Cardiff City CAR 34 38 10 4 24 34 69 -35 34
19 Fulham FUL 26 38 7 5 26 34 81 -47 26
20 Huddersfield Town HUD 16 38 3 7 28 22 76 -54 16
*e1 & e2 advances to R16, e3 possible R16
2018/2019 Premier League
2018/2019 UEFA Champions League
2018/2019 UEFA Europa League
2018/2019 A-League
2018/2019 Ligue 1
2018/2019 Bundesliga
2018/2019 La Liga
2018/2019 Primeira Liga
2017/2018 Serie A
2018 World Cup
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