Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid’s success this season and his late resurgence in the campaign are down to Zinedine Zidane’s “extraordinary work”.
Speaking to UEFA.com ahead of next Saturday’s Champions League Final between Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo explained how Zidane’s management left Los Blancos 90 minutes away from becoming the first club to defend the European cup in the modern era and the No 7 reaching 100 goals on the continent.
“The Champions League? It’s an objective that all Real Madrid players want to achieve,” he began.
“We want to make history and, if we win, we’ll become the first team to win the trophy twice in a row, in the Champions League’s new format.
“It’s an ambition and a dream for us. We’ll cross our fingers.
“We know it’s going to be a very difficult game, but we’re Real Madrid and we have a good chance of winning.
“It’ll be very similar to previous Finals, you always have a 50 percent chance and both teams will try to take advantage of each other’s mistakes, but I hope win because it’d be extraordinary.
“The team that makes the fewest number of mistakes will probably win. I hope that team are Real Madrid.
“It’ll be a very exciting game, everyone wants to see it and the players want to enjoy it on the pitch. Expectations are high and the team are confident.
“Juve? They’re an excellent team, they’re not in the Final by chance, they won the Italian League and Cup.
“They’re tough opponents and we know it’ll be a difficult match. They like to close their rivals down, like Atletico Madrid.
“They may have a great defensive line, but regardless of how good their defenders are, there’s a weakness in every defence, so we’ll have to decipher their weaknesses, capitalise on the space that Juventus will give us in the match and take advantage of it to score.
“It’s always special to play in a Champions League Final. We’ll be facing a great team.
“Winning the Champions League is extremely difficult. In the group stage, we finished second behind Borussia Dortmund, but I think we did well.
“After that, we were able to eliminate great teams like Atletico or Bayern and that’s why we deserve to be in the Final.
“Since I’ve been at Real Madrid, we’ve always focused on the knockout matches with more concentration than usual, and that shows we’re a great team.
“Zidane? He’s done an extraordinary job, he started from scratch this season and is proving how good a Coach he’s becoming.
“I’ve been very happy with his work. I admired him as a player and now even more as a Coach because he’s a very positive person, very hardworking and very respectful of the players.
“For this, I have no doubt that the team’s success is down to Zidane and the excellent work he’s doing. All the players are happy with him.
“Zidane has managed the squad very cleverly. It’s not easy here. It’s not a simple situation because all the players want to play a lot.
“Zidane’s done a very smart job and he’s been able to use all the players. That was key to us reaching the final and winning the League.
“Hundred CL goals? It was a milestone that I wanted to reach. I was close to achieving it before, but I had a couple of games when I didn’t score, which made it a bit more complicated.
“I always believed that I’d be the first in history to score 100 goals and I did it. It was an objective that I had set myself at the start of the season and, thank God, I got it.
“I’d like to thank my teammates, Coach and the Real Madrid fans. It was a beautiful moment in my career.
“Position on the pitch? My position will always be the same. What I like most is to play freely in attack, and I’ve been given that opportunity by Zidane. Out wide or through the middle? I play where I think I should.
“As for the number of matches, it was something that we talked about at the start of the season, and I knew I needed [more rest].
“In the past couple of seasons, I got tired when the final stretch of the League and Champions League arrived.
“Therefore, this season I was rested for a couple of games and I feel much better in this final stretch than in previous years as a result.”