Football

Zidane: People are underestimating Real Madrid

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes his side are being underrated ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Real have endured a patchy season but remain alive in the Champions League and La Liga, with the gap to Atletico Madrid down to three points with nine games left.

If they can overcome Liverpool, they will have a semi-final against either Chelsea or Porto and be within sight of a 14th European triumph.

"I think my team has been underestimated," said Zidane in a press conference yesterday.

"I trust my team a lot and I know what they can give. But we can't change what people think. We can only work day by day and while there is still a chance, we never give up.

"We are going to fight for everything. We have had difficult moments this season and now we are better but it doesn't mean anything tomorrow."

Zidane raised the possibility of Eden Hazard being involved in the first leg in Madrid, even though the Belgian, 30, has missed the last three weeks with a pelvic injury.

Ravaged by injuries since joining Real from Chelsea in 2019, Hazard returned to training last Friday ahead of schedule from his latest muscle problem, but played no part in last Saturday's 2-0 win over Eibar. He trained at Valdebebas yesterday.

"We have talked a lot about this, Hazard has to be calm. The important thing is that he has recovered," said Zidane. "If the player is well, I want him with the team. We are going to do things little by little and we'll see what happens."

Real will be without their captain Sergio Ramos, who injured his calf on international duty last month with Spain.

Ramos played a key role as Real beat Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final in Kiev, where his challenge forced Mohamed Salah to be substituted in the first half.

"I know Sergio, he is a teammate, a friend," said Real defender Nacho Fernandez. "It's a shame, nobody likes to be injured in moments as important as this and even more so when you know Sergio, who is the captain.

"I'm sure that not just Salah but everyone from Liverpool will want to take revenge and win the game, just like us." - AFP

Football