Zinedine Zidane believes Liverpool are capable of two top performances against Real Madrid, even if the Premier League champions are struggling domestically.
Liverpool have lost eight games in the Premier League since the turn of the year, slipping from the top of the table down to sixth place.
With their title aspirations well and truly over, as well as their campaigns in both domestic cup competitions, the Reds’ only chance of silverware this season is the Champions League.
Standing in their way of a place in the semi-finals are Zidane’s Madrid, who won in the last meeting between the teams in the competition – Gareth Bale inspiring Los Blancos to a 3-1 victory in the 2017-18 final.
Madrid and Liverpool will face each other in a two-legged knockout tie for only the second time – the first saw the Reds inflict Los Blancos’ biggest-ever Champions League aggregate defeat (5-0) in 2008-09.
Despite Liverpool’s struggles in the Premier League, Zidane is anticipating a stern quarter-final challenge for his team, who are six points off the pace in the Spanish title race.
“We cannot say that it is a bad draw or that it is good, because what happens throughout the season does not matter,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of Madrid’s LaLiga clash with Celta Vigo on Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter how Liverpool are in their league today because at any time, in a tie, they can play their cards without looking at how they are doing in their championship.
“We know who Liverpool are and that is not going to change. It’s like us, who have been on the edge of the precipice, but we are alive in both competitions.
“It will be a match between two teams that have won many Champions League [trophies], a very complicated tie. At that level it is always very difficult to win.”
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 19, 2021
There has been some doubt over Zidane’s future at Madrid. The Frenchman left his post as head coach in the aftermath of Los Blancos’ last victory over Liverpool – their third straight Champions League success – only to return for a second spell in March the following year.
Zidane’s deal runs out at the end of next season, but he affirmed he is content to focus on the here and now, rather than his future.
“The world of football is what it is, I am not going to change anything. I enjoy being here every day, I don’t care what is said from the outside,” he added.
“We have to enjoy every day because this will end one day. We are alive in both competitions, that is what motivates us. The players have the ambition to show that they are the best.
“I look no further. I don’t plan anything. You can sign for 10 years and be out tomorrow, and vice versa, you can sign a year and be here a long time. I cannot say anything.”