Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has hit back at UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin's claim that next week's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea might not go ahead.

Ceferin said there was a chance Madrid could be denied the opportunity to continue their bid for a 14th European crown after their president Florentino Perez refused to renounce his plans for a breakaway Super League, despite eight of the 12 teams initially signed up swiftly withdrawing from the project.

Speaking to Slovenian station 24UR, Ceferin conceded there was only "a relatively small possibility that the match isn’t played" but this was enough to draw Zidane's ire.

"It's illogical," he said at a news conference to preview Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Betis.

"We are going to play the Champions League, we have the right and we are going to play it.

"It is an absurd matter. I am not going to go into that. I can only tell you that we are going to prepare to play the Champions League semi-final.

"We have a league game and then we have time for the semi-final. I am not worried.

"They said a lot of things about this matter but we are going to play our semi-final as [we have] the right to play."

Perez has been widely ridiculed after a pair of scattergun media appearances in defence of the Super League – a matter Zidane again sought to prevent his own opinions and Madrid future becoming intertwined with.

"I do not know what will happen in a month or two months. I want to finish the season well and then we will talk about the future and what is going to happen," he said.

"At the moment we are focused on the day to day and tomorrow's game.

"As always, we [Zidane and Perez] talk from time to time and that's it. He comes here to see the team, everyone.

"Nothing has changed. We know where the president is. He wants us to focus on tomorrow's game."

Zidane will welcome back injury-plagued forward Eden Hazard for Betis' visit to Madrid, while Luka Modric is also set to return having missed the 3-0 midweek win over Cadiz due to a back complaint.

Club captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy are out with calf problems but Zidane is hopeful each can play a part against Chelsea.

"I see [Ramos] well, emotionally very well," he said. "He has had problems but he is better.

"He is not with us yet but he has a few days left. I am happy, because we always want him with us. I see him well, little by little. Some workouts are missing. " 

On Mendy, Zidane added: "He will not be there tomorrow. For Ferland it is day to day. I hope he will be with us on Tuesday, but not tomorrow. It is not much [of a problem], it is a matter of days." 

Defending champions Madrid are three points shy of Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six matches remaining.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has heaped praise on Karim Benzema after his double in Wednesday's 3-0 win at Cadiz lifted Los Blancos into top spot in LaLiga.

The France international striker took his LaLiga season tally to 19 goals, closing within four strikes of league top scorer Lionel Messi.

Benzema converted a penalty on the half hour, before adding Madrid's third in the 40th minute.

"I’m delighted with how he’s performing," Zidane said post-game. "We know how important he is to our game and not just because of his goals.

"He makes the guys around him play, we enjoy watching him and I hope Real Madrid can continue enjoying him for a long time to come."

Madrid's win moves them ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference for the time being although Atleti are due to play on Thursday against Huesca.

Zidane was delighted to see his side sitting top of LaLiga albeit temporarily while also being through to the Champions League semi-finals.

"We’re still alive in both competitions and we keep going," Zidane said.

"We’ve picked up three very important points to keep us in the race, but there’s still a long way to go."

Zidane also praised his side's defence, having only conceded twice in their past six matches in all competitions.

He deployed a three centre-backs against Cadiz, with Marcelo and Odriozola getting up and down the flanks as wing-backs to good effect.

"We haven’t conceded a goal for three games and that’s pleasing for me," Zidane said.

Luka Modric was absent for the game with a back issue although Zidane was hopeful he would be in contention for the weekend's league game against Real Betis.

"He felt something in his back but I don’t think it’s anything serious," Zidane said.

"We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and I hope he can be back with us straight away."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane deflected questions about the proposed breakaway European Super League, insisting it was a matter for president Florentino Perez.

Madrid were among 12 clubs to announce their involvement in the controversial new competition on Sunday.

Los Blancos have been European champions a record 13 times, but this tournament would rival the Champions League.

The anti-competitive nature of the format, which would mean the 12 'founding clubs' could not be demoted, has been widely criticised, yet Zidane would not give his opinion.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's game against Cadiz, the coach said: "That's a matter of one person, of the president.

"I'm here to talk about the game, not to talk about other things. The rest is not my job."

UEFA could yet attempt to expel Madrid, along with fellow semi-finalists Chelsea and Manchester City, from this season's Champions League.

The idea of banning Super League players from international football has also been mooted.

But Zidane, who refused to give an opinion again when asked if he had spoken to Perez, insists his squad are not distracted by the matter.

"We don't talk about it in the locker room," he said. "We have a game to get right."

While there is uncertainty around how the remainder of this season might play out, as well as Madrid's involvement in competitions going forward, Zidane is determined his players will keep pushing to win LaLiga.

A goalless draw against Getafe at the weekend saw the champions lose ground in the title race, slipping three points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Having held Liverpool in Europe in their previous match, Los Blancos could have three consecutive 0-0 draws for the first time since March 2006.

And Cadiz beat Madrid 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season. They are the only LaLiga opponents Zidane has never defeated and could become the first promoted side to achieve a league double against Madrid since Real Burgos in 1990-91.

But Zidane is not ready to concede the title, adding: "We've been here eight months and [people say] it's all over. I was on the street, the players were worthless...

"And that's never the case. The important thing is that there is life. We're competing, which is what we like, and we're going to compete until the last day.

"Whatever happens, we're going to compete until the last day. I don't know if we're going to win, but we're going to put all the strength in it."

Zidane confirmed Madrid would again be without record signing Eden Hazard, who has not featured since March 13 due to a calf injury.

The €100million winger has played just 646 minutes across 14 games in all competitions this season, scoring with three of his 14 shots and creating six chances and a single assist.

Zinedine Zidane told Real Madrid to keep going "to the death" after a goalless draw at Getafe hit their LaLiga title prospects.

Having cut Atletico Madrid's lead down to one point by winning El Clasico, Zidane's defending champions were second best at times at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Sunday.

Hampered by injuries and COVID-19 absences, under-strength Madrid needed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make six saves to repel a lively Getafe.

That was the highest number of saves from shots on target that the Belgian has made in games for Madrid where he has not conceded a goal, and centre-back Eder Militao was also kept busy.

The Brazilian defender made 10 clearances, the most he has made in a match for Madrid and one short of the highest number made by any player for Los Blancos this season, after Nacho made 11 against Liverpool in the Champions League.

A makeshift back four of captain Marcelo, Victor Chust, Militao and Alvaro Odriozola faced a barrage of crosses from a Getafe side who belied their recent poor form, having previously won just one in 12 LaLiga matches (D4 L7) leading up to the game.

Zidane said after the match: "We have given our maximum. It's a draw but we continue fighting. It will not end here.

"There are many games, but the team that is going to win will need a little of everything, especially having its players.

"We have to do our best. Look at ourselves and not look at others. It's a very difficult, competitive league. Every three days we must always be good. We must go to the death and our mentality will not change."

Atletico's 5-0 win over Eibar earlier on Sunday means their lead is up to three points over Madrid and five over third-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand.

By coincidence, Atletico also drew 0-0 at Getafe last month.

Toni Kroos was absent for Madrid, with Zidane saying the midfielder had been "in discomfort".

"We have a lot of games and we can't do foolish things. We have to manage that," said the French head coach.

Madrid's unbeaten away run in LaLiga extended to 11 games (W6 D5), their longest run without losing since October 2017 (W13), and the starting XI Zidane fielded had the youngest average age of any of his teams in the league this season, at 26 years and 138 days.

Courtois was immaculate and later offered an intriguing reason for why he felt Madrid had perhaps not performed as many would have expected.

"Playing at Getafe is never easy, the pitch was dry and it was hard to move the ball around," Courtois said, in an interview released on Twitter by the club.

"We tried, we had a couple of good chances, as did they, and that's where I had good saves."

He pointed to the moment Getafe hit the post through a header from Jaime Mata midway through the first half, saying: "I caught it with my finger."

That fingertip touch had not been obvious to the naked eye. What was clear was that this result comes as a jolt, and a reminder that with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard, Kroos, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde unavailable, even the depth in Madrid's squad is not such to guarantee wins at tricky grounds such as Getafe's.

"In adversity you find the strength of a group," Courtois said. "It is what we are doing all season. You always have to stand up and that's what we do."

Real Madrid might be heading for a European Super League at some point in the future but a 0-0 draw with Getafe on Sunday was a reminder of the charms of good old LaLiga.

An under-strength Madrid were given a rough ride by their near neighbours and lost ground to Atletico Madrid as a result, Diego Simeone's team seeing their lead at the top of the table grow from one point to three on Sunday.

After Atletico's 5-0 thumping of Eibar earlier in the day, the onus was on Zinedine Zidane's Madrid to follow up their Champions League success against Liverpool and last week's victory in El Clasico.

This was far from being classic Madrid, although they played their part in an entertaining tussle against relative minnows at Coliseum Alfonso Perez, the sort of match that would be missed if they were ever taken away by big-money deals.

Moments after Thibaut Courtois saved well from Mathias Olivera, Madrid had the ball in the net in the eighth minute when Mariano sprinted through and went wide of goalkeeper David Soria, sliding the ball into the net from a tight angle to the right of goal.

That was disallowed for offside after a VAR review, and Madrid were in trouble soon after when Mauro Arambarri had a clear sight of goal from 12 yards, only to rifle a foot wide of the left post.

The home side went even closer to a shock lead in the 23rd minute when Jaime Mata's flicked header from Nemanja Maksimovic's cross, drifted in from the left, rattled the right post.

David Timor made an outstanding clearance to deny Mariano in front of goal after Soria failed to gather a cross from Madrid left-back Marcelo. Vinicius Junior then drew an athletic but ultimately comfortable save from Soria with a header before half-time.

With Sergio Ramos absent through injury and Raphael Varane out after a COVID-19 positive test, it was a makeshift defence again for Madrid and they looked susceptible, Courtois having to make a fine save just before the hour mark to prevent Enes Unal finding the top left corner from 16 yards.

Madrid were sorely lacking sparkle and Angel Rodriguez nearly made a breakthrough for Getafe with 20 minutes remaining, clipping just wide of the left post. Courtois then saved expertly when a deflected shot from Maksimovic almost looped into the back of the net, the goalkeeper preventing a shock loss.

Zinedine Zidane joked he has not been a coaching "disaster" for Real Madrid and is not fretting about his contract situation.

Across his two spells in charge of Madrid, Zidane has led the club to 11 trophies. They remain in the hunt for glory in LaLiga and the Champions League this season.

The Frenchman's deal is set to expire in June 2022 and he has often shied away from confirming his long-term commitment to Los Blancos.

Club president Florentino Perez was this week re-elected for a fifth straight term running until 2025, but Zidane was guarded when asked he if could remain for the same period.

"I'm delighted that he's continuing on as president, but I'm not looking any further ahead than tomorrow's game," Zidane said at a news conference to preview Sunday's LaLiga meeting with Getafe.

"Nobody knows what'll happen later, so we just have to focus on the day to day.

"You can have a four- or five-year contract and leave tomorrow, or you can have a one-year contract and stay longer. That doesn't mean anything."

Zidane averages a trophy every 16 games with Madrid, but his detractors suggest his success is largely down to inheriting an incredibly strong squad.

"It's true that I'm lucky enough to coach this team and to be at this great club. I don't think that I'm an awful coach, but I'm sure that I'm not the best around," joked Zidane.

"I enjoy what I do and the important thing is that you're passionate about the things you enjoy.

"I know where I am and the important thing is that you always give your best. That's what me and my players, who are the most important ones, do.

"I'd like to talk more about football, but it's as if people are more interested in talking about other things. I think that it's better that we talk about football because I know that you all enjoy talking about football.

"I am happy, but I am just focusing on tomorrow's game. I never look into the future."

With Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal having suffered setbacks in their returns from injury and Ferland Mendy out with a muscle issue, Zidane only named 16 players for the trip to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

However, Madrid are on a 10-game unbeaten away run in LaLiga and Getafe have not won a home game against them since August 2012, losing five of the most recent six such meetings.

The last time Madrid went on a longer undefeated away streak in the top flight was in 2017, during Zidane's first spell in charge.

LaLiga's reigning champions moved into second by defeating Barcelona in El Clasico last weekend, with Atletico Madrid just one point ahead of them at the summit.

Despite having some key absentees against Getafe, Zidane believes he and his team have what it takes to get a positive result.

"My biggest strength in this role is that I enjoy myself every day and I've got a team that works really hard and is always hungry for more, despite having already won so much," said Zidane.

"We're going to keep battling and working because we also known how to dig in and that's something you have to do if you're going to win games. The result of our work is that it allows you to achieve something really special.

"The players believe in what they do and the challenges make us stronger. I'm really proud of that and that they're always hungry for more.

"Seeing my players so focused on everything we do fills me with joy. They're ready and we need to recover. Recovery is all about the small details to make sure you're ready when the games come round."

Zinedine Zidane said Real Madrid always want more after reaching the Champions League semi-finals as they also fight to retain their LaLiga crown.

Madrid booked a semi-final berth for the first time since 2018 after Wednesday's 0-0 draw away to Liverpool secured a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Los Blancos, who are only a point adrift of city rivals Atletico Madrid with eight games remaining in LaLiga, have qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League for the 30th time – at least 10 more than any other team as Chelsea await in the final four.

Zidane led Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles between 2015 and 2018, and after eliminating Premier League holders Liverpool, the Frenchman said: "We're all pulling together and this side always does that and it always wants more.

"We've not won anything yet, but we're alive in Europe and the LaLiga."

Without the likes of captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane at Anfield – Madrid benefited from Liverpool's wastefulness after the likes of Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all had chances.

Madrid, who seized control of the tie thanks to Vinicius Junior's first-leg brace, weathered the storm – the Spanish giants have now progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the Champions League under Zidane, with the club's only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's round of 16.

"We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through," said Zidane, who has reached the Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time as a coach, more than any other French manager in the history of the competition – surpassing Arsene Wenger.

"I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.

"We knew they'd start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that's normal. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through."

Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against the Premier League outfit (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever Champions League meeting.

Luka Modric has admitted he would love to play with Kylian Mbappe at Real Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker continues to be linked with a switch to the LaLiga giants, and recent unconfirmed reports claimed Mbappe has told his French club he wants to leave.

Mbappe has also previously been linked with a possible switch to Liverpool, who Madrid face in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

It now appears the Spanish capital is a likelier destination than Merseyside for 22-year-old Mbappe, who helped France win the 2018 World Cup final against Modric and Croatia.

Asked about the prospect of signings for next season, Madrid playmaker Modric told a pre-match news conference: "There are a lot of rumours and news about players coming and leaving. I can't comment on that.

"Kylian Mbappe is a great player, he has showed us many times with PSG and the French national team. Great players are always welcome at Real Madrid, of course.

"But it wouldn't be correct for me to talk about players from other teams, especially at this stage of the season.

"We'll see what happens next season, but what I can tell you is he is one of the best players in the world."

The first degree of uncertainty over whether Mbappe and Modric share a dressing room next term centres on whether a deal will be struck between PSG and Madrid, but the second would be whether Modric remains with Los Blancos.

The 35-year-old midfielder's contract expires after the end of the season, and Modric is hopeful of staying on, saying there have been positive moves towards that happening.

"Like always, my contract extension is going well," Modric said. "I can't say anything else. I've always said I want to keep playing here at Real Madrid.

"I feel very happy here and hope I can stay here next season, but apart from that I can't tell you anything else."

Modric and Toni Kroos continue to look like a midfield combination that Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane would be bold if not foolish to split up, and Modric said his German team-mate has "made me feel at my most comfortable".

"I enjoy playing alongside Toni a lot. We understand each other very well," Modric added. "Let's see how much longer we can share the pitch together."

Madrid, who lead 3-1 from the first leg against Liverpool, travelled to Anfield without injured captain Sergio Ramos, and it emerged on Wednesday the skipper has also tested positive for the coronavirus.

They are also without Raphael Varane, Lucas Vazquez, Dani Carvajal and Eden Hazard for a game which Madrid approach on the back of a Clasico win over Barcelona in LaLiga.

Former Tottenham midfielder Modric said it was unfortunate the game would be played behind closed doors, given the volume that can be generated at Liverpool.

Madrid won 3-0 at Anfield in the group stage in 2014, with Modric and Kroos again at the heart of midfield.

Modric said Madrid would have relished a noisy welcome, saying: "I would like to play at Anfield with a crowd because I played a few times with Tottenham and played that game with Real Madrid and the atmosphere was amazing.

"Everyone wants to play with fans, with a crowd. That's why we're not thinking about if it's an advantage for us or not."

Real Madrid must perform at "maximum intensity" to get past Liverpool and reach the Champions League semi-finals, head coach Zinedine Zidane has warned.

Los Blancos claimed a 3-1 first-leg win in Spain thanks to two goals from Vinicius Junior and one from Marco Asensio, with Mohamed Salah grabbing an away goal for the Premier League champions.

Liverpool famously recovered from a 3-0 deficit to knock Barcelona out of the semi-finals two years ago, but that was one of just two out of 13 occasions in which they have progressed after losing the first leg of a European tie by two goals or more.

Madrid have only lost one of their previous 16 knockout ties when winning the first leg by such a margin, while they have scored at least one goal in each of their past 23 games in the competition beyond the group stage.

With history seemingly on their side, and following an impressive 2-1 win over Barcelona that lifted them to within a point of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, Zidane's side could perhaps be forgiven if they are unable to match the same level of effort at Anfield.

However, Zidane is not prepared to accept any such compromise in their standards, nor to begin prioritising one competition over another.

"We don't think like that. We only have this game with Liverpool in our heads. We want to go through," he told reporters.

"We're not going to waste our resources. Real Madrid always go out on the pitch to win. We've used so much energy against Liverpool and Barcelona but we're going to have to play at our maximum intensity again, and we're ready for that."

Madrid will be without Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez, with Federico Valverde battling to be fit and several players admitting to being tired after the wins over Liverpool and Barca in a gruelling week.

"The team is always united against difficulties," said Zidane. "This shows the character they have. It's a very strange season for many reasons. But we can't do anything other than recover well. We'll keep going until the end.

 "We know what type of game we have coming up. What we are going to try and do is continue what we're doing and compete as a team. We're going to need to compete and attack well as a unit. We're ready for this return leg."

With Carvajal and Vazquez sidelined, Zidane is expected to choose between Valverde – nominally a midfielder – and Alvaro Odriozola at right-back on Wednesday.

"Fede has recovered and he's at 100 per cent with the team. We'll see tomorrow how we use him," Zidane said.

"Odriozola has played little, it's true, but now I'm not going to say anything about the team."

Zinedine Zidane rejected Ronald Koeman's complaints about the officials after Real Madrid beat bitter rivals Barcelona 2-1 to go top of LaLiga.

Madrid were in scintillating form before half-time, with Karim Benzema's ingenious opener followed by a deflected free-kick from Toni Kroos.

Federico Valverde hit the post as Madrid threatened to run riot but, after Lionel Messi tested the upright directly from a corner, Barca improved and Oscar Mingueza reduced the arrears with an hour played.

Referee Jesus Gil Manzano and his colleagues drew Koeman's ire during a frantic finale, first when Martin Braithwaite had a penalty appeals rejected and his tangle with Ferland Mendy was not examined on the pitchside monitor.

Also, amid torrential rain, Gil Manzano had to change his radio set and Koeman did not feel adequate stoppage time was added as a result.

Nevertheless, Zidane preferred to focus on the performance of his players.

"As always, it's an interpretation of everyone. Everyone has their own opinion whether it's a penalty or not," he told LaLiga TV.

"Of course, the stoppage time, that's a different case completely. Whether it's four, five or six it's the referee that makes the decision.

"I don't have much more to say in that regard.

"It's an important victory for us and we did our job. We had more than enough chances to kill off the game a lot earlier.

"Barcelona are a very good side and we still managed to play our own game and were in the lead for the entirety, basically.

"We can be very happy with that. But I'm not going to go into any other details in the game.

"We can't just talk about the referees. We played our own game and it’s a very important victory for us."

Zidane lost Lucas Vazquez to injury before the break and substituted Benzema, Valverde, Kroos and Vinicius Junior during the second period despite the fraught nature of the contest, with Casemiro earning a second booking for a foul on Mingueza.

Madrid face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday, eight days on from their 3-1 Champions League quarter final first-leg win over the reigning Premier League champions.

"They have been two very demanding matches. We have to rest well, the players are exhausted again," Zidane added at a post-match news conference.

"Physically we are at our limit. It's clear we are at our limit. We're struggling to finish our matches but we're alive."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he hopes Lionel Messi stays with Barcelona amid speculation about his playing future beyond this season.

Messi has been linked with a move away from Barcelona, including a reunion with former mentor Pep Guardiola at Manchester City this off-season.

The 33-year-old Argentinian has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, whom he joined as a junior in 2000.

"Hopefully he stays at Barcelona," Zidane said, speaking ahead of Saturday's Clasico which may be Messi's last.

"He's good there and it's also good for the Spanish league."

Another player who has been linked with an off-season move is Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, who is coming off contract.

Ramos will miss Saturday's match with Barcelona due to a muscle injury.

"Hopefully it won't be his last Clasico," Zidane added. "He won't play tomorrow, it is a shame. But, I hope he stays here."

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman reiterated that sentiment, saying he hopes Ramos remains with Madrid beyond this season.

"The best for our league is to keep the best players until their last minute of professional football, like Leo Messi," Koeman said.

"You cannot compare with Sergio Ramos because one is a defender and the other is a striker. But both players have been very important for their clubs.

"Hopefully, Sergio Ramos will stay at Real Madrid and Leo will stay with us."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is happy to leave Kylian Mbappe to make his own decision on his future amid talk of a possible move to Spain.

The Paris Saint-Germain star scored twice in a 3-2 win away to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final this week.

Following that performance, reports in Spain suggested Mbappe has now informed PSG he will not be signing a new contract and is determined to become a Madrid player before next season.

The France international, who is said to be keen to work under compatriot Zidane, has scored 32 goals and provided nine assists this season and is behind only Harry Kane (45) and Robert Lewandowski (50) for direct goal involvements for players in Europe's top-five leagues this season.

Aside from Karim Benzema, who has 24 goals and six assists this term, few Madrid players have offered persistent goal threats, with none of Benzema's team-mates having scored more than six times in 2020-21.

Interest in Mbappe therefore comes as little surprise, but Zidane, speaking ahead of Saturday's LaLiga showdown with Barcelona, was not prepared to discuss a possible deal in detail.

"I know him and we know him well. That's it. He's not my player and I can't speak about anything," Zidane said.

"Kylian is a great player and we'll see what he wants to do in the future, but it's not my concern."

With Eden Hazard still out injured and the Mbappe rumours continuing, much of the focus on Saturday will be on Madrid forward Vinicius Junior.

The Brazilian produced arguably his best performance for the club on Tuesday, scoring twice in the 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Liverpool.

Zidane is confident in the 20-year-old as he aims for a victory that will lift Madrid above Barca and onto the coattails of league leaders Atletico Madrid.

"He's really well, working, he's very young and we have to keep calm with him. It's making me happy because there's a lot of noise but he is focused on what he has to do," Zidane said.

"We have Eden who, at the moment, is not available but we have Vini and we're happy with him.

"We've had a lot of complications this year with injuries and the truth is we've not liked it, but it's a very big squad where the players are always committed and want to play and that's the most important thing.

"Atletico have the advantage because they're first. You say who is going to win and it's a very competitive league, a very good league and all the teams can win, so until the end, we don't know who will do it. I don't know how many points are left, but there are many.

"I'm not thinking [if we lose, we can't win the league]. We'll see at the end of the game, but we're going to give everything and we're positive and we want to play a great game of football."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said "Juventus are still important to me" amid links with the under-fire Serie A champions.

First-year Juve coach Andrea Pirlo is under mounting pressure in Turin, where the Italian giants are fourth in Serie A and in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for next season.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Juve were stunned by Portuguese side Porto in the Champions League last 16 this term.

Former boss Massimiliano Allegri – who left in 2019 – has been linked with a return after meeting president Andrea Agnelli.

Zidane spent five years at Juventus, winning two Serie A titles among other honours before joining Madrid in 2001, and the Frenchman did not rule out a possible Bianconeri reunion.

"Both, Italy is in my heart, I spent five years in Turin and Juventus are still important to me," Zidane told Sky Italia.

"Future at Juve? For now I'm here, we'll see," 

Zidane was speaking after Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the opening leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday.

Vinicius Junior scored twice for hosts Madrid in the Spanish capital, where Marco Asensio was also on target against the Premier League holders in the absence of centre-back duo Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

Toni Kroos teed up Vinicius for the opening goal with an exceptional pass in the 27th minute before Trent Alexander-Arnold's error gifted Asensio a goal of his own nine minutes later.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah reduced the deficit six minutes into the second half, but Vinicius restored Madrid's two-goal advantage within 14 minutes.

Aged 20 years and 268 days, Vinicius became the second youngest goalscorer for LaLiga holders Madrid in a Champions League knockout match after 18-year-old Raul netted against Juventus in March 1996.

"I'm happy for him because he needed to score, like Marco [Asensio] or Karim [Benzema] do," said Zidane, who took charge of his 50th Champions League fixture with his 31st victory – only Jupp Heynckes (32) won more of his first 50 managerial games in the competition than the Frenchman.

"He's playing well, he's helping the team and he gets a boost by scoring a goal.

"Vini was lacking goals and he's going to gain a lot of confidence from today. He deserves it.

"I don't know if it was his best game [at Real Madrid], but two goals in a quarter final is something very important."

Madrid have progressed from 15 of their last 16 Champions League knockout matches after winning the opening leg, only failing to do so against Ajax in the 2018-19 round of 16.

In all European competition, no side has beaten Liverpool more often than Real Madrid (four, level with Benfica), with the Reds suffering defeat in each of the last four encounters with Los Blancos.

"We studied Liverpool pretty well before the game and prevented them from playing their way," Zidane said ahead of Saturday's Clasico showdown with LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

"We weren't going to play with three at the back with Varane, 4-3-3 was the preferred choice from the start."

"3-1 is a deserved victory, I'm proud of my team, we're in good form but the players are very tired now. I hope we recover well for the Clasico."

Zidane added: "We haven't won anything. We're happy with what we're doing. What the players are doing is tremendous considering the difficulties we've had."

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane will miss the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Liverpool after testing positive for coronavirus hours before the match.

Varane had been rested as Madrid defeated Eibar 2-0 in LaLiga on Saturday, the France international an unused substitute for the fixture.

But Madrid will not have the centre-back to call upon as they take on Liverpool at home on Tuesday.

"Real Madrid informs that our player Raphael Varane tested positive in the COVID-19 test he underwent this morning," the club confirmed in a statement on the day of the game.

Varane is a key figure for Madrid. The World Cup winner has started 27 of his team's 29 league games this season and all eight of their matches so far in the Champions League.

Madrid are already without injured captain Sergio Ramos, so Eder Militao may now partner Nacho at centre-back against a formidable Liverpool attack.

The diagnosis comes at a bad time for Madrid, who face Barcelona in El Clasico on Saturday before the second leg against Liverpool next week.

Zinedine Zidane's men are at home for the opening leg in their first Champions League meeting against Liverpool since the 2018 final, which they won 3-1.

Madrid have won the first leg in eight of their last nine Champions League knockout ties, the exception being last year's defeat to Manchester City in the last 16.

They are in the quarter-finals for the first time since winning the competition three years ago, while Liverpool won it in 2019 before joining Madrid in suffering a last-16 exit last season.

Eden Hazard will not be rushed back for Real Madrid's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Liverpool on Tuesday, insists Zinedine Zidane. 

Hazard has been plagued by injuries since joining Madrid from Chelsea for €100million in June 2019.

He has made just 36 appearances and 29 starts across all competitions in that time, scoring only four times. 

The 30-year-old returned from injury in March but then missed the Champions League last-16 second leg against Atalanta with a damaged hip flexor – a development Zidane described as "inexplicable". 

That injury kept him out of the Belgium squad for the recent international break and Zidane says he has no intention of playing Hazard against Premier League champions Liverpool if he is not 100 per cent fit. 

"Eden has to be calm," the Madrid boss told a media conference on Monday. "We never risk the return of a player if he is not well. 

"We will do things little by little and we will see when he will be with us. At the moment it is like that.

"I need all my players to be available and fit. I like my players to be fit and in good health. I don't like seeing players out injured. We have had a lot of players out injured this season.

"I hope to have Eden back soon. I hope to have a fully fit squad come the end of the season."

Tuesday's clash will be the first between the sides since the 2018 final, which Madrid won 3-1 to seal a third consecutive Champions League trophy.

Los Blancos have won the first leg in eight of their last nine Champions League knockout ties, while they have claimed victories in their last three matches against the Reds in the competition. 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, however, has won each of his last five games at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League, including all four of his games at this stage while in charge of the Reds. 

Zidane is an admirer of what Klopp has achieved at Anfield, but says he is not interested in copying the German's methods. 

"Klopp is a great manager, he has been coaching for a long time," he added. "He's got a great CV and has done superbly at Liverpool. 

"I don't have to look at what he does and copy him. Everyone has their way of going about things but I look at all the managers.

"I looked and learned when I was going to be a manager and, of course, I analysed Klopp."

Liverpool will need to be particularly wary of Madrid talisman Karim Benzema, who has scored four goals in his three Champions League appearances against them.

He is level with Didier Drogba as the player to have scored the most against the Reds in the competition. 

Benzema should lead the line on Tuesday and Zidane has attributed his success to the understanding he has developed with his team-mates.

"All the players who are here know how to play and have earned the right to be in this squad, they are the best," he explained. "They all understand Karim well and Karim the others. There is a lot of chemistry between them."

Page 1 of 26
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.