Congested calendar, more injuries make game less entertaining - Zidane

·2 min read
Champions League - Group B - Real Madrid v Inter Milan

MILAN (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes football's fixture overload is harming the sport's entertainment value as his side prepare to face Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday with a squad depleted by injuries.

Madrid will be without leading striker Karim Benzema and captain Sergio Ramos due to muscle injuries while key midfielder Federico Valverde has a broken leg. Defender Eder Militao and striker Luka Jovic are out after recently testing positive for COVID-19, while Alvaro Odriozola is also sidelined.

European football's congested schedule, which has been further squeezed by the coronavirus pandemic, has come under increased scrutiny following a number of injuries to high-profile players, with Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman and Liverpool's Juergen Klopp among those speaking out.

"We've reached a point where you start to think that with so many matches and so many injuries, the spectacle is not the same," Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the clash with Inter at the San Siro.

"There are so many games and we had practically no preparation for this season. But I don't know if our season would have been different with another schedule. We don't want to use it as an excuse."

Real midfielder Luka Modric also complained about the number of matches players are being asked to play and warned against the creation of new competitions such as the expanded Club World Cup.

"There are too many games at the moment, we are playing every three days, in the league, Europe and with our national teams. We are living in a very complicated time but no-one is asking about the health of the players," he said.

"There are so many injuries and there is no point in creating more competitions because that will just lead to more injuries. I don't know who is going to play all these games."

Madrid, who beat Inter 3-2 at home earlier this month, are third in a tight Group B with four points from three games and Zidane joined Inter coach Antonio Conte, whose side are bottom with two points, in describing the match as "like a final".

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)