Champions League

No divided loyalties for Zidane's Juventus reunion

2017-05-11 07:53
Zinedine Zidane (Gallo Images)

Madrid - Zinedine Zidane insists he will have no divided loyalties after leading Real Madrid to a second consecutive Champions League final where they will meet his old club Juventus on June 3.

Real withstood a first-half onslaught from local rivals Atletico Madrid to progress 4-2 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 in their semi-final, second leg on Wednesday.

Italian champions Juventus await, who Zidane left for a then world record fee when he first joined Real as a player in 2001.

"For sure it is special because it was a very important club for me as a player. It is a club that also gave me everything," said Zidane.

"Now, though, I am with Real Madrid, the club of my life and it will be a great final."

Zidane admitted ahead of December's last 16 draw that Juventus were the team he wanted to avoid due to his respect for Massimiliano Allegri's side, who eased past Monaco 4-1 on aggregate in the other semi-final

"I can't do anything about it now," added Zidane.

"They have got to the final and deserve to be there, as do we."

Ultimately, Cristiano Ronaldo's first leg hat-trick proved the difference as for the fourth straight season Real eliminated Atletico from the Champions League.

Atletico had threatened an incredible comeback, Saul Niguez's powerful header and Antoine Griezmann's penalty inside 16 minutes cutting Real's aggregate lead to a solitary goal.

However, Isco's away goal just before half-time settled Real's nerves and left Atletico with too much to do to progress.

"We knew they would start very strongly," said Ronaldo.

"They had the luck to score two goals but we know that if we scored that would kill them.

"They played well, but we have more experience."

Real can now make history by becoming the first side to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

However, Zidane preferred to highlight the strength of his squad rather than his own role in a remarkably successful run since he took his first senior managerial job 17 months ago.

"I am delighted. I am the coach which means I am doing something right, but everyone in this squad is doing a phenomenal job.

"The squad should get the credit because it is they who are playing, running, fighting on the field."

Real were without the injured Gareth Bale for both legs of the semi-final.

However, Zidane is hopeful the Welshman could be fit for a homecoming final in Cardiff.

"At the moment Gareth is recovering ... we have time before the final.

"I hope we will have him back before then, it is better that he plays a little bit."

ENCOURAGING FUTURE

Despite the disappointment of bowing out to Real once more, Atletico boss Diego Simeone beamed with pride at his side's performance.

"I am happy and proud that once again we have shown why we are competing at the top level just behind Real Madrid and Barcelona," said the Argentine.

"When we said that we believed we could come back some thought it was just words."

Atletico were inspired by a sensational atmosphere on their last ever Champions League game at the Vicente Calderon before moving to the new 67,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano next season.

"The atmosphere was one of those magical moments in the Calderon that will live in people's memories forever."

Atletico face another big summer as on top of moving stadium, they will have to resist huge offers for the likes of Griezmann and Simeone.

However, Simeone insists Atletico will have a bright future after leaving the Calderon.

"It is clear that we still need to keep growing.

"That final step is still a big one and we need to keep improving. If we can improve on this then the future is encouraging." 

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 20:45
Manchester City v Napoli, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Maribor v Liverpool, Ljudski vrt 20:45
APOEL v Borussia Dortmund, Neo GSP 20:45
Spartak Moskva v Sevilla, Otkrytiye Arena 20:45
RB Leipzig v Porto, Red Bull Arena 20:45
Monaco v Besiktas, Stade Louis II. 20:45
Feyenoord v Shakhtar Donetsk, Stadion Feijenoord 20:45
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Qarabag v Atletico Madrid, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 18:00
Juventus v Sporting CP, Allianz Stadium 20:45
Bayern Munchen v Celtic, Allianz-Arena 20:45
Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus, Camp Nou 20:45
Benfica v Manchester United, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 20:45
Anderlecht v PSG, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 20:45
Chelsea v Roma, Stamford Bridge 20:45
CSKA Moskva v Basel, VEB Arena 20:45
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Celtic v Bayern Munchen, Celtic Park 21:45
Sporting CP v Juventus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Qarabag, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
Manchester United v Benfica, Old Trafford 21:45
PSG v Anderlecht, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v CSKA Moskva, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Barcelona, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Chelsea, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Wednesday, 01 November 2017
Besiktas v Monaco, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Liverpool v Maribor, Anfield 21:45
Porto v RB Leipzig, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Sevilla v Spartak Moskva, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Feyenoord, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v APOEL, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Napoli v Manchester City, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid, Wembley Stadium 21:45
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Spartak Moskva v Maribor, Otkrytiye Arena 19:00
Besiktas v Porto, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Sevilla v Liverpool, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Manchester City v Feyenoord, Etihad Stadium 21:45
APOEL v Real Madrid, Neo GSP 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Monaco v RB Leipzig, Stade Louis II. 21:45
Napoli v Shakhtar Donetsk, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Qarabag v Chelsea, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 19:00
CSKA Moskva v Benfica, VEB Arena 19:00
Juventus v Barcelona, Allianz Stadium 21:45
Sporting CP v Olympiakos Piraeus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Roma, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
PSG v Celtic, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v Manchester United, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Anderlecht v Bayern Munchen, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 21:45
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