Zinedine Zidane insists Real Madrid are well prepared for their Champions League clash with Paris St Germain after warming up with a 5-2 demolition of Real Sociedad.
Real host Ligue 1 leaders PSG in the first leg of their second-round European tie on Wednesday before travelling to the French capital for the return game just under three weeks later.
The Champions League represents Real’s only realistic hope of silverware this season as they are still 16 points adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona following Saturday’s comfortable victory, which was earned by Cristiano Ronaldo‘s hat-trick and goals from Lucas Vazquez and Toni Kroos.
Head coach Zidane was content with the performance against Sociedad, particularly in the first half, and has quickly turned his attention to the midweek meeting with Unai Emery’s men.
Zidane told his club’s official website: “We played the whole first part with intensity, determination and desire, and we got a good result at the break.
“They have been 45 minutes of great level, good game and chances and goals. We are satisfied.
“In this way we prepare (for) Wednesday’s match very well.
“Now it’s time to rest well and, starting tomorrow, think about the Champions League.
“We are all ready for Wednesday and that is the most important thing.
“It’s going to be another match, in another competition and another extra motivation. We will be very motivated.”
— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) February 10, 2018
Real were 4-0 up at the break at the Bernabeu after a blistering first-half display, which included a goal in the first minute from Vazquez.
They eased off in the second period, although Ronaldo was able to complete his treble, in between goals for the visitors from substitute Jon Bautista and former Real midfielder Asier Illarramendi.
Zidane felt Portugal forward Ronaldo – who now counts 23 goals for the season in all competitions – gave PSG a timely reminder of his qualities.
“We know that he always wants to score and generate chances,” Zidane said of the 33-year-old.
“Today he has scored three goals and it is true that PSG will have to be careful with him.”
Just days before Paris Saint-Germain touch down in the Spanish capital, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid have the chance to boost their fragile confidence when they face Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.
The reigning European champions have been shipping a worrying number of goals in the build-up to their Champions League last-16 showdown with the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.
Zidane’s side have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight outings, and they could pay a heavy price for any goals conceded against the French giants in next Wednesday’s match at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It shows that we need to work even harder. That’s football — whoever your opponents they are there to make things difficult for you,” said Zidane after last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw at Levante.
That result left Madrid fourth in the table, a point behind Valencia in third but with a game in hand.
Real Sociedad lie in the lower half of the table but they score goals for fun — witness a 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last weekend.
They also have one of the worst defensive records in Spain, so Cristiano Ronaldo — who turned 33 this week — will hope to fill his boots along with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Zidane’s side are still 19 points behind leaders Barcelona, who remain unbeaten, but the Frenchman refuses to completely give up on a successful La Liga title defence, publicly at least.
“I am always going to say that the league is not over. There are a lot of points to play for, but we dropped two in a game we were controlling,” he said of last week’s game, when Levante twice came from behind to draw.
“We needed to make it three straight wins and we couldn’t do it.”
Barcelona have what looks like a straightforward home meeting with mid-table Getafe on Sunday, fresh from securing their place in the Copa del Rey final by beating Valencia on Thursday.
The Catalans do not face Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 tie until February 20 so can focus on further consolidating their nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the summit of La Liga.
Philippe Coutinho savoured a “special moment” after his first goal for Barcelona helped them reach their fifth consecutive Copa del Rey final.
Coutinho opened the scoring in a 2-0 win at Valencia that sent Barcelona through 3-0 on aggregate, the Brazilian netting four minutes after coming on at half-time for his fifth appearance since his £142million switch from Liverpool last month.
He was quoted on Barcelona’s Twitter feed as saying: “I feel happy to have scored my first goal for Barca and have helped the team get to the final.
“It’s a special moment.”
Coutinho’s goal came when he slid to get his right leg to a cross from Luis Suarez, who also produced the assist when Ivan Rakitic struck in the 82nd minute.
Barcelona will face Sevilla in the final, aiming to win the Copa del Rey for a fourth successive season and a 30th time overall.
Boss Ernesto Valverde said in quotes reported on AS: “Barca are used to reaching and playing the finals. In my case, not so much.
“I feel very happy as it is the fifth consecutive final that the players of this team are going to play, something very complicated to repeat and repeat.
“We thought it would be very difficult and that’s how it was, but we’re going home with the final ticket in our pocket.”
When asked how Gerard Pique was after the defender came off in the final 10 minutes, Valverde said: “In the end he noticed an overload and we decided that the best thing of all is that the player rests.”
Valencia boss Marcelino said as he gave his reflections on the game: “I think they (Barcelona), in general, were superior. We had our opportunities.
“I think that in the first half we deserved to go level, but we did not do it and then their goal (Coutinho’s) decided the tie.”