Madrid will eliminate Liverpool in Champions League last 16, jokes Zidane

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane aimed a light-hearted jibe at defending UCL champion Liverpool and conceded that Luka Jovic needed more playing time.

Asked if Champions League holder Liverpool was a team to be avoided, Zinedine Zidane smiled and said: "If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them."   -  Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane joked that his Real Madrid side would have no issues beating defending champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The La Liga giant had already secured its knockout berth before its 3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday and can now turn its attention to the draw for the next stage, which takes place on Monday.

Hans Vanaken cancelled out Rodrygo Goes' opener within the space of two second-half minutes, but a first Champions League goal for Vinicius Junior and a sublime strike from Luka Modric sealed all three points for Zidane's side.

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Madrid finished second in Group A, five points behind Paris Saint-Germain, which means it will be drawn against the winner of another group, potentially Jurgen Klopp's Premier League leader Liverpool.

Asked if the Reds were a team to be avoided, Zidane smiled and said: "If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them." More soberly, he added: "We can't do anything about the draw."

Madrid was far from its best in Belgium but Zidane insists he was happy with his side's performance. "We are happy with the victory and with the way we played," he said. "We had difficulty with our game since they usually play with five at the back and, today, they played with four.

"It took 10 or 15 minutes for the players to adjust. The second half was better in every area."

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Luka Jovic was chosen to start in attack alongside Rodrygo and Vinicius, but the Serbian was again unable to make an impression.

He has scored just one goal in Madrid colours since his move from Eintracht Frankfurt, and Zidane concedes the striker needs more playing time to find his groove.

"I don't think he feels lost," the Frenchman said. "He has played little and a player needs to play a lot to be well. 

"I think he has done well and has to continue working as he does. It's a problem of mine, it's not yours. He needs to continue working and, every time he plays, respond. 

"It's not easy because he doesn't play much, but knows the situation. He needs to play, it's true."

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