Zinedine Zidane has admitted that it will hurt when he names his Real Madrid starting line-up for tomorrow’s Champions League final, such is the depth of quality in his squad.
While Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has few decisions to make about his injury-hit squad, how Madrid will line up remains unclear.
Gareth Bale, the former Tottenham Hotspur winger, is by no means assured of a start in Kiev, with Isco likely preferred.
“When asked whether his team selection tomorrow would ‘hurt’ him, Zidane said: “Yes. And what’s more, I have said it before, it’s the worst moment for a coach, when you have to do that, when it’s a final.
“There are players who won’t ever get their kit on and others who won’t play but the players know that. I have to accept that, it’s my responsibility, I have to take that on.”
One player certain of his place is Cristiano Ronaldo, despite a recent ankle injury that initially appeared to threaten his involvement.
Zidane dispelled any notion that the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer would miss the sixth European Cup final of his career when asked whether Ronaldo would be ‘150 per cent’.
“He looks good to me. If it’s 140 per cent no problem. We have the last session now, and then tomorrow the last game of the season and you want to know he lives for games like this. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Madrid are aiming to win their third consecutive Champions League, as is Zidane – yet the Frenchman is rarely paid the respect a coach with his record of European success might expect.
Zidane is often portrayed and characterised as man-manager, adept at handling the egos within Madrid’s squad, rather than a tactician.
Asked whether he believes he is shown enough respect, Zidane initially replied in the affirmative and smiled, but then admitted to some frustrations.
“Sometimes not, but that’s life,” he said. “What matters to me is give it all and then the consequences are not important.
“The satisfaction is giving everything. I tell the players that: give it all. I feel valued because I give everything. What people think, I can’t control.”
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