Zidane welcomes Champions League reunion with Ancelotti's Bayern

Attitude and dedication will decide Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern Munich, according to Zinedine Zidane.

Published : Mar 17, 2017 22:38 IST

The big game mentality that made Zinedine Zidane one of the most decorated players of his era is still burning brightly and was there for all to see after his Real Madrid team drew a Bayern Munich side led by mentor Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Zidane, a World Cup, European Championship and Champions League winner with France and Madrid, served as Ancelotti's assistant when the Italian guided Los Blancos to its historic 10th European Cup success in 2014.

The apprentice has since taken the reins outright at Santiago Bernabeu, winning the prestigious competition himself last season, while Ancelotti is now in charge at another of the continent's powerhouse clubs. And the two will go head to head for the first time since the conclusion of their productive working relationship, with a place in the Champions League semifinals at stake.

"Well, it's true that coming up against Ancelotti will be special," Zidane told a news conference on Friday.

"I've learned a lot by his side. He's a coach who did great things at this club and he's also a great person as well. I've had the fortune to get to know him closely. I'm happy that we're going to come up against each other because it's going to be a great game. 

"This is what I live for, these kind of moments. When I was a player, these were the kind of games I loved to play in. There's a lot of respect between both managers. We're very happy to come up against a big club like Bayern."

'No easy games'

Conspiracy theorists who allege Madrid, 11-time winner of UEFA's biggest prize, receives favourable routes to the latter stages of the competition were left with little evidence to support that claim after the defending champion was pitted against the German heavyweight. 

"I'm just smiling. We know now there's no such thing as hot balls in the draw," the coach jokingly said. "There's no easy games. I know we're up against a really tough opponent. That's what we've got, there's nothing we can do about that. They're not going to be scared either. They have a very strong team, they're doing very well. It's going to be a great game for the fans and the world of football.

"Anything can happen, you need to know the team that's going to play, the players. It's not how we set up, it's the attitude that's the most important thing and the dedication we're going to put into the game."

Madrid is at the top in La Liga and it is aiming to become the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to retain the European Cup, a feat that is yet to be achieved in the Champions League era. But when pressed on which competition he would rather win, Zidane offered a diplomatic response: "Both of them! Honestly. I learned here it's good to win everything, so I'm sorry, but I'm going to say I'm as excited for the Champions League as I am for trying to win the league.

"We've got these two challenges, there's nothing else. Five games to try and get to a final and 12 games to win the league."

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