Forget Cardiff, warns Zidane as Real face ‘complete’ Juventus

Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has warned that last year’s final win over Juventus in Cardiff will count for little in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against the Italians in Turin.

Real Madrid lifted their 12th Champions League crown — and second under Zidane — with a 4-1 win last May, but the Frenchman insisted “ten months ago was a completely different situation”.

“It will be a totally different scenario,” Zidane told a press conference in Turin on Monday.

“Ten months have elapsed and tomorrow’s match will have nothing to do with that. 

“The players are more or less the same but since then our season has not been as good as we expected it to be. 

“Juventus have been having a great season.”

Real Madrid are trailing Barcelona by 13 points in La Liga while Juventus are top of Serie A and in the running for a treble.

“Juventus are doing great things and playing beautiful football, it is a complete team,” continued Zidane.

“We have to pay attention to everything, their defensive strength and talent of (Paulo) Dybala and (Gonzalo) Higuain up front and their midfield.”

Zidane said that there were lots of similarities between the two European giants.

“I believe that we are quite similar in our hopes, expectations. These two teams share the same DNA, two teams that fight hard and want to win everything.”

Zidane returns to Juventus where he spent five years between 1996 and 2001 as a player before moving to Real Madrid.

“I learned a lot as a player and as a person. I left France for the first time, it was a radical change and Juventus welcomed me like a family. I have good memories.”

And the former France international said he would not rule out a return to Turin as coach.

“Never say never,” he said. “I’m very happy with what I have. I’m very focused on what I’m doing. I don’t really want to think too much about the future.

“I live day by day, that’s life, because life is particularly complicated if you coach a team like Real Madrid.”

– ‘Important lesson’ –

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said his side had learned valuable lessons from their second final defeat in three seasons last May, and were looking to pull off a shock by eliminating the favourites.

“The Cardiff match was a very important lesson. We had a very good first half, but mentally we suffered, we gave it up a bit,” he said.

“Especially (as) this is a two-legged clash it cannot happen again. It’s important to stay focused and stay in the match the whole time.

“Real are a tricky team. They can be almost sleepy at the beginning but can then hurt us.

“We’re up against a team that have been playing the Champions League without interruption since 1997 and are always at least in the semi-finals since 2011. 

“We know that we’re up against the strongest and the favourites, eliminating such a team would be a step forward and an exploit.”

Defender Giorgio Chiellini added that Juventus did not see the match as a chance for revenge, as the seven-time runners-up bid for a third title after 1985 and 1996.

“No revenge, because over many years of playing we have had positive and negative memories against everyone,” said Chiellini.

“If you want to reach the final stages of the Champions League you have to play the big clubs, we also have good memories, even if we have bad memories of Cardiff.

“There’s respect and esteem, but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them.”

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