Real Madrid travel to London tomorrow for their titanic Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea. Los Blancos drew the first leg 1-1 at Valdebebas, and the tie is finely in the balance heading into the clash at Stamford Bridge. Zinedine Zidane, speaking pre-game in comments carried by Marca, was sure to underline how his team’s success isn’t due to luck but a phenomenal work ethic.
“You have to take your hat off to this team,” Zidane said. “Every time there are difficulties, they respond. They’re the best. We are where we want and it’s deserved. All those who are here are prepared. We’re all going to the death for a Champions League semi-final, something that isn’t played every day. The formation doesn’t change anything. We’re going to suffer, but I care about what we do with the ball.”
Madrid are expecting to welcome back captain Sergio Ramos for the game, as well as possibly retain Eden Hazard’s place in the starting lineup. The Belgian started against Osasuna at the weekend on his way back to full fitness, following on from his cameo against Chelsea last week. It’s understood he’s raring to go and keen to make a mark on his old hunting ground.
“It’s a very good time for Hazard,” Zidane said. “I’m sure he’s going to help us. He’s going to give us his quality. Tomorrow we’ll see if [Ramos] plays. I’m not going to say whether he is or isn’t. If he does it’s great, and that’s the most important thing, having our leader and our captain. We’re not going to risk anything, but if he’s here it’s because he can play. [The players] are good and we’re happy to play this game. We know what’s brought us here. We’re here because of our work. In football there are no miracles, they don’t exist.”
Madrid have a massive week on the cards. If they can navigate past Chelsea and into the final of the Champions League, it would be an outcome they never would have anticipated before Christmas. They’ll face Manchester City if they can, after Pep Guardiola’s side beat Paris Saint-Germain in the other semi-final. In La Liga, Los Blancos host fourth-placed Sevilla in another game crucial to their domestic title ambitions. They lie level on points with third-placed Barcelona in second, two behind leaders Atletico Madrid.