Zidane warns against complacency in Europe

MADRID • Zinedine Zidane has told his players to ignore the Champions League hype around Real Madrid after they were held to a 1-1 draw by city rivals Atletico in LaLiga on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's 24th goal in 15 games this calendar year was not enough to earn his side a derby victory as Antoine Griezmann equalised to secure Diego Simeone's side a point.

The result left Real in fourth place in LaLiga, a point behind Valencia, who beat Espanyol 1-0 later in the day.

Ronaldo was taken off in the 64th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu while Luka Modric and Karim Benzema both started on the bench, with Zidane keeping one eye on tomorrow's quarter-final second leg at home to Juventus.

Real boast a 3-0 advantage from the opening leg in Turin and Simeone suggested on Sunday that Los Blancos should now be considered favourites to claim a third consecutive European triumph. But Zidane is wary of complacency.

"Everyone sees us going through to the semi-finals and that's exactly what we should not put in our head," said the Real manager, who will be without the suspended Sergio Ramos against the Italian champions and may be forced to employ Casemiro as a centre-back. "We know very well that we will have to suffer again on Wednesday."

Gareth Bale was given 90 minutes, perhaps not the most positive indicator for his chances of a midweek start. The Welshman supplied the cross for Ronaldo's opener but was quiet for long periods.

"Cristiano is Cristiano, he has been this player all his life, scoring 50 goals a season. It is true that there is nobody else who does that," said Zidane.

"But others can score, have done recently, and we must think about the positives. It's better to have Cristiano with us. It was just (to rest him). We have many games, that's it. Sometimes he needs to rest. These days he needs that. He feels better every day, you can see it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Zidane warns against complacency in Europe'. Print Edition | Subscribe