Football

Zidane on Champions League draw: If we meet Liverpool, we'll win

Real coach Zidane bullish ahead of Round of 16 draw, but Robertson believes teams will not want to face Reds

Champions League holders Liverpool may be the side that most teams will want to avoid in Monday's Round of 16 draw, but Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane does not appear to fear them.

"If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them," he said with a wry smile, when asked about which team he would like to meet. "We can't do anything about the draw."

The Frenchman led Real to three Champions League titles, the last of which saw them beating Liverpool in the 2017/18 season. He then left the club before returning in March this year.

Real ended their group campaign on a positive note yesterday morning (Singapore time), after goals by Brazilian teenagers Rodrygo and Vinicius helped them secure a 3-1 win over Club Brugge at the Jan Breydelstadion.

Luka Modric added a superb late third for Real, who were already assured of second place in the group and a place in the knockout stages before the game.

Zidane made eight changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Paris Saint-Germain last month, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos all missing.

By finishing second behind group winners Paris Saint-Germain, Real could meet any of the following teams - Bayern Munich, Juventus, RB Leipzig, Liverpool or Manchester City.

While Zidane was bullish about meeting Liverpool, Reds left-back Andy Robertson believes no team will relish being picked to face the holders during the draw in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday (7pm Singapore time).

Besides Real, the Reds could also be drawn with Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta or Lyon.

After losing to Zidane's Real, Klopp's team made the final of Europe's elite club competition for the second year in a row, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid to win their first trophy under the German last season.

"We're respected in this tournament. The way we've done things in the last two years, nobody wants to play against us," Robertson said.

"That's the atmosphere we've created, a team which has been to the final twice and has lost one and won one.

"Maybe the first season when we went to the final... we did not get the respect we deserved. Now we know we are respected in Europe. No one will want us."

"We'll wait... and see who we get," Robertson added. "We know it'll be tough, regardless, but we look forward to the challenge as we want to go far in this tournament again.

"We know that now we're the champions, everyone wants to beat us."

Zidane's former star Cristiano Ronaldo was not hoping for a reunion so soon in the knockout stage.

Ronaldo, who left the Bernabeu to join Juventus after his fourth Champions League win in 2017/18, said he would prefer to meet his former team only in the final on May 30 in Istanbul.

"Real Madrid are an extraordinary team, but I'd rather see them later. I'd sign up to meet them in the final," he told Sky Sports.

However, his coach Maurizio Sarri has picked Manchester City as the team to beat.

The Italian also spoke of a possible reunion with Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho in the Round of 16. "I've been lucky enough to meet him personally," he said. "I have the highest respect for him of course."

Football