Zinedine Zidane has been impressed with his Real Madrid side for his persistence this season despite an often long injury list, although he insists it is not a “miracle” to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Madrid will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday after drawing 1-1 at home against the Blues last week, meaning Thomas Tuchel’s men have a slim advantage guaranteed by their away goal.
The omens aren’t great for Madrid as they have never beaten Chelsea in four previous encounters and haven’t won any of their last four trips to England.
On top of that, Tuchel has suffered just four home defeats out of a possible Champions League 18 and has seen his sides average 2.7 goals per game in those matches.
But Madrid showed character to save a draw in the first leg with Karim Benzema leveling Christian Pulisic’s opener, and Zidane believes the fact that they got this far despite a squad exhausted for much of the season. 2021 is a testament to the excellent mentality of the team.
“You have to take your hat off to this team,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “Whenever there is difficulty, they react. They are the best. We are where we want to be and it is deserved.
“The team has character, first of all, and when the going gets tough, they’re there.”
– Real Madrid CF (@realmadriden) May 4, 2021
However, when Zidane was told that Madrid’s progress this far in the competition was akin to a ‘miracle’, the Frenchman didn’t want to get carried away.
“It’s not a miracle to be here, not at all, on the contrary,” he said. “We are here for our work and because we believe in what we do.
“We are here because of our work, nothing else. In football, there are no miracles. “
Madrid have picked up several key players for the trip to London, with Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde and Ferland Mendy all able to travel.
While the loss of Raphael Varane to an injury to a kidnapper has been a blow, the return of captain Ramos – absent since March – will add leadership and experience to the side.
“I’m not going to risk anything,” Zidane said of Ramos’ inclusion. “If he’s with us, he’s ready to play.
“He’s with us, that means it’s okay. It’s the most important thing, to have our leader. “
Eden Hazard appeared against his former club off the bench last week and Zidane is backing the Belgian to make an impact at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s a very good time for him and I think he’s ready,” Zidane added. “We’re going to need him and he will help you, of course.