Andy Brassell: Relief for Real, Roma revived but Monaco's misery goes on

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane and his Real Madrid team offered the perfect riposte to their critics at Sevilla

Ahead of a midweek with a full fixture slate in Spain, Italy and France, Andy Brassell looks at two coaches proving their worth - and one who badly needs to

"It was almost a shock to see Los Merengues turn in their best display of the season at Sevilla as they brought a 1-0 win back to the capital."

What Real Madrid crisis?

The days following Wednesday night's Champions League thrashing at Paris Saint-Germain were not kind to Real Madrid, or Zinedine Zidane. Seemingly acres of column inches and countless raised heckles on radio and television in Spain were spent lamenting the club's apparently ineffective transfer window, wringing hands over the coach's inability to re-energise his squad and even doing back-of-a-fag-packet calculations of just how much it would cost Florentino Pérez to dump the iconic Frenchman.

Sunday night's visit to Sevilla didn't look like a promising place to turn things around, either. The Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan is a famously partisan and atmospheric ground - and one at which El Real had won on just one of their seven visits, losing the other six. It was almost a shock, then, to see Los Merengues turn in their best display of the season as they brought a 1-0 win back to the capital.

It was, quite simply, Madrid's best display of the season, full of all the fortitude and organisation that had been missing in Paris. Furthermore it put them joint top of La Liga, and four points clear of Barcelona. With the champs currently struggling badly on the road - losing 2-0 at promoted Granada on Saturday - and Atlético inconsistent, Zizou's main pre-season aim of winning back the title doesn't seem like such a pipe dream all of a sudden.

Real Madrid are 2.789/5 to win La Liga

Roma are toughening up under Fonseca

It's been a turbulent 12 months-plus for Roma, with their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League overshadowed by the exits of influential dressing room figures like Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and finally Daniele De Rossi, the collapse of the Monchi era, Francesco Totti's upsetting departure from the board and an ensuing downturn on the pitch. Paulo Fonseca may have got himself a plum job on paper following his excellent work at Shakhtar Donetsk, but it is certainly a challenging one.

The early signs look good. The Giallorossi are still unbeaten in Serie A and got their Europa League campaign off to a flyer by hammering Basaksehir last week, and they have started to score regularly. Justin Kluivert is beginning to come out of his shell and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has made a good first impression after his struggles in the Premier League. Roma have attacking pace in abundance.

They have experience too, though. After the evergreen Aleksandar Kolarov opened the scoring in Sunday's tough trip to Bologna. Edin Džeko's wildly-celebrated header right at the end of stoppage time snatched victory even though Roma had been reduced to ten men. Steel is what's been missing from the side since Nainggolan and Strootman moved on. If they really have found it, a Champions League place is there for the taking.

Roma are odds-against to beat Atalanta at 2.265/4

How many more chances does Jardim have at Monaco?

The Côte d'Azur derby is a peculiar one, especially at the Stade Louis II, where the travelling fans from Nice outnumber the home regulars. The atmosphere will be an especially intense one when Monaco face their near-neighbours on Tuesday, with the more illustrious of the two in serious trouble.

Leonardo Jardim's side are yet to win this season and only a star turn from goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte got them a point in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Reims. They don't look confident at home at the best of times, and only won four Ligue 1 games at Louis II in the whole of last season.

Contrast with Nice, flying high under the canny Patrick Vieira and now able to score goals too, with the Jim Ratcliffe takeover providing the funds for the signings of Kasper Dolberg from Ajax and Napoli's Adam Ounas, to name but two. Dolberg opened his account for the club in the win over Dijon at the weekend (despite disquiet about his €70,000 watch being pinched from the dressing room in the week leading up to the game) and Monaco are unconvincing at the back. If Jardim is to prolong his second spell at the club, the 2017 champions need to click - and fast.

You can lay Monaco at 2.0621/20

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