Zinedine Zidane, who managed the Spanish giants on that fateful day in Kiev and will be at the helm once again for the rematch in April, spent much of his press conference today answering questions about being drawn to face Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
“We know the difficulties of the game. At this level all the teams are very good and very difficult,” said Zidane. “It will be a very demanding match too. Liverpool are physically going to demand a lot from us.”
The weight of a matchup between two clubs who have combined for 19 titles in the competition is not lost on a man who helped the Spanish side win it four times (once as a player and thrice as manager).
“It will be a good match between two teams that have won many Champions. At that level, it is always very difficult to win.”
Adding to the demanding nature of the matchup for the Frenchman’s squad is that they’ll have to face FC Barcelona on the weekend between their two clashes with Liverpool. Zidane isn’t going to use that as an excuse though. Grueling schedules with consecutive top-quality opponents are simply something a manager has to live with.
“The tough schedule? Every year it is the same. In the final stretch, you are always risking everything. I do not look at those things but on the day-to-day. What encourages us is the day by day. The rest is philosophy, talking about many things.”
The challenges extend beyond the opponents Real Madrid will face to where they will play the English champions. They are currently playing home matches at Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, home to their reserve side, while Santiago Bernabéu Stadium undergoes renovations. But even that could prove untenable depending on Covid-19 related travel restrictions at the time the matches are played.
“We don’t know what will happen after 30 March,” said Zidane in reference to a potential travel ban preventing his side’s home match from being played in the Spanish capital. “We are going to play where they tell us. We prefer to play at Di Stéfano, but we’ll see what they say.”