Real Madrid host Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final tie, as they look to qualify for their 14th European final in the pursuit of their 11th Champions League title.
Speaking on tonight’s game in his pre-match conference he said,“This will be very, very, very difficult. It will not be like the last game against Wolfsburg: we won’t score two goals in 15 minutes. We will suffer for 90 minutes … or 120.”
On being asked whether it would be a failure if Real Madrid didn’t reach the finals, he agreed.
“When you coach Real Madrid you imagine that you might go a long way in the Champions League, I’m happy. Not because of what may happen [on Wednesday night] but because of what is happening day to day. That’s what satisfies me.” He said that they wanted to get to the final and that his players deserved it, but they would have to work for it. Zidane maintained that they had not achieved anything yet and concluded with,”And, yes, it will be failure if we don’t get there.”
There was a lot of speculation regarding the involvement of Cristiano Ronaldo prior to this game. He had to sit out of the first leg and the following league game against Real Sociedad, but he is set to return against Manchester City. “Cristiano is fine, 100%. He will be there,” Zidane said.
However, Karim Benzema and midfielder Casemiro have been ruled out. He said, “Karim and Casemiro are different. Karim had a scan and there’s still a touch [of injury] and I don’t want to take any risks. Casemiro is not an injury as such but there’s swelling and I don’t want to risk it.”
On tonight’s gameplan
Speaking on tonight’s plan of attack against City, “When we don’t have the ball we will all have to defend,” he said, “It’s not just the midfield or just the defence; it is all of us. And we will have to try to keep the ball so that they can’t attack us. I will prepare the same way as always: know the opponent, know where they can hurt you, and know what we can do.” Zidane said that it wasn’t the right time to motivate his players with grand speeches, as they knew what they were playing for.
“I hope we can produce 90 minutes of football like we played in the second half [in Manchester].” he said. “We have to think about pressing high, having the intensity you need in a semi-final, but we have to know we’ll suffer.”
He insisted that there would be difficult moments, and that patience would be key. He also said that they couldn’t take it lightly just because they were playing at home, saying “We know we have an opponent who will make it difficult for us. They’re playing for a place in the final, too.”
This is a competition Zidane knows all too well. His counterpart Manuel Pellegrini would like nothing better than to see his side qualify at the expense of Los Blancos. Manchester City will be sure to put up a tough fight and there aren’t many people better than Zidane to tell his team what to expect from a Champions league final. It’s sure to be an interesting game as Madrid look to win their second Champions League trophy in 3 years and Zidane’s first as manager.