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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Football first, shirt swapping later - Zurich boss

Underdogs FC Zurich have been told to put shirt-swapping at the back of their minds when they face Real Madrid in their Champions League group match on Tuesday.

"Every Zurich player dreams about swapping shirts with Raul, (Cristiano) Ronaldo or Kaka," coach Bernard Challandes told reporters on Monday. "I can understand their anxiety but we must not forget about the game.

"It's good that the small teams get a chance to play the big clubs but first we have to get points, then, if a player wants to exchange shirts, that's fine."

The Swiss champions, twice semi-finalists in the days of the European Cup, have been given a dream debut after reaching the Champions League group stage for the first time.

But Challandes, whose team are rank outsiders in Group C, felt he was in a no-win situation.

"It's going to be a very long night," he said. "If I say that we're going to come out and attack Real Madrid, play them on equal terms, try and win the game, then people will say that I'm mad.

"If I say that we'll defend for 30 minutes, that Real Madrid are the favourites, that maybe towards the end we will try and score a goal, then people will say that I'm not motivating the team. So I can only get it wrong."

Nine-times European champions Real are desperate to improve on a dismal recent record having been knocked out in the last 16 in their last five appearances.

An added incentive this season is that the final will be played at their own Bernabeu stadium.

"We have to win back our prestige," forward Raul told a news conference. "We know that in the last few years we haven't been at the standard which Real Madrid deserves and we hope that this time, with a new squad, we can go as far as possible.

"The club has made a big effort and the (new) players have raised the quality for the squad."

Coach Manuel Pellegrini, who left Ronaldo out of the starting line-up for Saturday's 3-0 league win at Espanyol, would not be drawn on his line-up for Tuesday.

"There's no fixed principle, we are not going to have rotation every week or play the same team for three games in a row," he said.




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