Zidane Targets Liverpool Ahead of Champions League Draw

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Zinedine Zidane
  • Ronaldo wants Juventus/Madrid final in Istanbul

Zinedine Zidane joked his Real Madrid side would have no issues beating last season’s winners Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Liga giants had already secured their knockout berth before their 3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday and can now turn their attention to the draw for the next stage, which takes place on Monday.

Hans Vanaken cancelled out Rodrygo Goes’ opener within the space of two second-half minutes, but a first Champions League goal for Vinicius Junior and a sublime strike from Luka Modric sealed all three points for Zidane’s side.

Madrid finished second in Group A, five points behind Paris Saint-Germain, which means they will be drawn against the winners of another group, potentially Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Asked if the Reds were a team to be avoided, Zidane smiled and said: “If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them.”

More soberly, he added: “We can’t do anything about the draw.”

Madrid were far from their best in Belgium but Zidane insists he was happy with his side’s performance.

“We are happy with the victory and with the way we played,” he said. “We had difficulty with our game since they usually play with five at the back and, today, they played with four.

“It took 10 or 15 minutes for the players to adjust. The second half was better in every area.”

Luka Jovic was chosen to start in attack alongside Rodrygo and Vinicius, but the Serbian was again unable to make an impression.

He has still scored just one goal in Madrid colours since his move from Eintracht Frankfurt, and Zidane concedes the striker needs more playing time to find his groove.

“I don’t think he feels lost,” the Frenchman said. “He has played little and a player needs to play a lot to be well.

“I think he has done well and has to continue working as he does. It’s a problem of mine, not yours. He needs to continue working and, every time he plays, respond.

“It’s not easy because he doesn’t play much, but he knows the situation. He needs to play, it’s true.”

Meanwhile, Juventus superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo has said that he would welcome the opportunity to take in a reunion with Real Madrid in the final of the 2019-20 Champions League.

The Portuguese spent nine memorable years at the Santiago Bernabeu before heading to Turin in the summer of 2018.

There is a chance that he could line up against familiar faces in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League, with Real having finished as runners-up in Group A behind Paris Saint-Germain. Ronaldo helped Juve to the top of their standings and is now waiting to discover who the Bianconeri will be paired with in the first knockout round.

He would prefer to avoid Madrid, but admits that the chance to face the Blancos at some stage in major European competition would appeal to him.

Ronaldo told Sky Sport Italia: “Real are an extraordinary team, but if you ask me, I’d rather face them later.

“In the final? I would sign up now to meet them in the final.” The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is doing his best to try and end Juventus’ long wait for continental glory.

He was back among the goals against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday and claims to be free of the injury issues which held him back in November and led to enforced breaks being taken in.

Ronaldo added: “I feel good, the physical problems I had have passed. “It was four weeks that I was playing with a little pain, but now I’m fine.

“The team is doing well, we played very well in the second half [against Leverkusen], we are first in the group, things improved for me too, I have more confidence. I hope to continue like this.”

Juve ended their most recent outing with Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala all on the pitch at the same time.

Maurizio Sarri has opted against playing three fearsome frontmen together for much of the current campaign, but Ronaldo claims to enjoy working with two talented Argentine stars.

He said: “Whether I play with Dybala or Higuain it is great.

“I like playing with both of them, we have a lot of fun on the pitch, but the coach is the one who makes the decisions and we must respect them.

“But I can’t deny that we have a lot of fun.”