Real Madrid must regroup quickly after defeat ahead of El Clasico clash, says Santiago Solari

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele in action with Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal during the clubs' Copa del Rey encounter. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2019

Real Madrid must regroup quickly after defeat ahead of El Clasico clash, says Santiago Solari

LONDON: Santiago Solari wants his Real Madrid players to pick themselves up and forget about their midweek Copa del Rey defeat to Barcelona as they prepare to face their bitter rivals again in the league tomorrow.
The Catalan giants cruised to a 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu to wrap up a 4-1 aggregate win on Wednesday and will be full of confidence going into the game at the same ground, especially as they have won 10 of their last 17 matches at the home of Los Blancos, which is now being dubbed “Camp Bernabeu” by the media because of Barca’s recent success there.
Madrid haven’t beaten Barcelona in their last five matchups at any venue, and their last win was in the Spanish Super Cup final in 2017.
Despite this, Solari was upbeat about his team’s chances in the second El Clasico of the season — the first resulted in a 5-1 win for Barca.

“We are upset. It was a hard blow,” he said. “In football you have to pick yourself up quickly because we have another difficult match ahead of us.”
Things could have been different on Wednesday if young forward Vinicius Junior, seen as Madrid’s next star after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, had not missed many clear chances in a first half in which Madrid dominated and deserved at least a goal.
The 18-year-old Brazilian was the home side’s best player, creating many scoring opportunities, but was not able to capitalize.
“He will get better with time,” Solari said. “He will mature.”
Vinicius Junior’s teammates were quick to show their support for him.
“We have to score when he creates the chances, but we can’t blame a single player for the loss,” midfielder Casemiro said. “When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win.”
Ernesto Valverde celebrated his 100th match in charge of Barcelona on Wednesday, and has a chance to strike another double blow with a repeat result in his 101st on Saturday, by knocking Madrid out of contention in the title race for good.
But despite winning so comfortably, the Barca boss wants his side to be even better to ensure they get the result, which will take them 12 points clear of Madrid.
“Saturday’s match has the same importance as before and we will have to improve to win here again,” he told Spanish media.
Afterwards, he compared the game to his side’s recent goalless draw with Lyon in the Champions League.
“I think we come out of the game strengthened, but we also have things to improve. Curiously, in Lyon we had 25 shots and didn’t score a single goal and they were talking about us being a crisis,” he said.
“It was a game of two halves. In the first they were better and we weren’t great because they pressed us in certain areas and our rhythm was really slow.
“We lost the ball in bad areas and it could have cost us a goal. It was not a well-rounded game from us, I have to admit.
“We didn’t get close to their goal. But in the second half we played with more determination.
“Today we scored three goals but didn’t have many chances. Other times, it is the other way around.”


Paire hangs on to beat Cilic, Fognini shocked by Evans

Updated 7 min 13 sec ago

Paire hangs on to beat Cilic, Fognini shocked by Evans

DUBAI: Benoit Paire fought off four match points at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday, overhauling former US Open winner Marin Cilic 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) to reach the second round, while fourth seed Fabio Fognini was dumped out by Brit Dan Evans.

Eighth seed Paire appeared all but finished as Croatian Cilic, leading 5-3 in the second set after taking the first, served for a straight sets win.

But Frenchman Paire broke as he clung on and then won the set in the opening match of the day played in desert conditions in which temperatures reached 29 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees fahrenheit).

“It was not easy today. I was not confident before the match. Normally when it’s one set, 5-3, I normally tank,” Paire said.

“This time I tried until the end. It was working good. I’m really happy about the win.

“I was not feeling really good on court. I was a little bit sick (the last) two, three days. But I was happy to win today and to fight until the end.”

Paire, who lost to Cilic in the second round of last month’s Australian Open, recovered from a break down in the final set and saved match points in the 12th game to take it into a tiebreaker.

He then charged to five match points before Cilic double-faulted for a 10th time to hand the win to Paire, who will play countryman Richard Gasquet next.

Italian Fognini, making his Dubai debut, was knocked out after nearly two hours and 45 minutes on Evans’ sixth match point.

The Briton claimed a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory after an eight-minute final game which ended as a return on the Fognini baseline was called good by the Hawk-Eye system.

“It’s difficult to play Fabio, he’s such a class player,” Evans said of the world No. 11.

“I’m just happy to come through really. It felt like he was on top forever really, I was just hanging in.”

Later second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lifted the Marseille title at the weekend, faces Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

Other Tuesday winners included qualifiers Dennis Novak of Austria and Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama.

Filip Krajinovic advanced past Joao Sousa with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback to next play sixth seed Andrey Rublev.

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who lost the Delray Beach final in Florida on Sunday, rushed to the Gulf only to go down 7-5, 6-2 to France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round.