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Madrid look to plug gaps

Published: Monday 15 September 2003, 20.00CET
Real Madrid CF coach Carlos Queiroz has defensive worries as Olympique de Marseille come to town.

Tournament statistics

Real MadridMarseille

Goals scored18
Attempts on target61
Attempts off target60
Fouls committed106
Yellow cards14
Red cards0

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Published: Monday 15 September 2003, 20.00CET

Madrid look to plug gaps

Real Madrid CF coach Carlos Queiroz has defensive worries as Olympique de Marseille come to town.

By Andy Hall

Real Madrid CF welcome Olympique de Marseille to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Tuesday night for a mouthwatering UEFA Champions League Group F meeting.

Special for Zidane
For Zinedine Zidane, the matchwinner in the 2002 final, meeting Marseille is an emotional experience. "It is really special for me to play against Olympique," he said. "I have followed them all my life, it is where I come from and where my family and friends are. I will have to forget about that once I'm out on the pitch."

Defensive injuries
Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz leads the side in the competition for the first time since succeeding Vicente Del Bosque - who took the team to the semi-finals last season. Queiroz has a number of injuries, with the absences of Iván Helguera and Oscar Miñambres leaving the Spaniards slightly understaffed in defence.

Cambiasso wait
Esteban Cambiasso will wait on the results of a last-minute fitness test to see if he has overcome an ankle injury. Cambiasso's slot in midfield will go to Guti should the Argentinian fail to recover in time.

Promising start
Despite their worries at the back, Madrid have enjoyed a promising start to the season on the domestic front and were in sparkling form on Saturday, scoring seven goals against Real Valladolid.

Fine form
More importantly, striker Raúl González has recovered his scoring touch - following up his double for Spain last week with a hat-trick on Saturday, while new signing David Beckham seems to have bedded in despite playing in an unfamiliar central position.

Madrid determined
Roberto Carlos, a veteran of Madrid's three Champions League triumphs in the last six years, said his side were determined to improve on their semi-final exit at the hands of Juventus FC last season - but he appreciates the size of their task as they seek to wrest the crown back from AC Milan.

'Much more complicated'
He said: "This season, the Champions League will be much more complicated than last year. But we are going to try and reclaim what Milan stole from us."

Treble aim
Zidane, meanwhile, hopes this year could be when Madrid win the treble of Champions League, Primera División and Spanish Cup. "Our aim is to play the best football and win everything although the Champions League is the priority," he said.

Marseille relish return
The winners of this competition in 1993, Marseille are relishing returning to Champions League action after a four-year absence. The Ligue 1 side have been in excellent form and go to Madrid on the back of a 5-0 weekend win against Le Mans UC 72.

Bullish Perrin
Coach Alain Perrin is also in bullish mood, having rejected the theory that his side are underdogs by telling reporters: "There are plenty of players in my team that have already played against the likes of Ronaldo and Zidane during the [FIFA] World Cup. We are not talking about a second division club playing against Real Madrid."

Last updated: 16/09/03 19.09CET