Zidane: ‘Conte a real leader’

Zinedine Zidane assures Real Madrid ‘know how important this game is and are ready’ against ‘real leader’ Antonio Conte’s Inter, but shrugs off an Isco-Christian Eriksen exchange.

It kicks off on Wednesday at San Siro at 20.00 GMT and failure to win would effectively eliminate the Nerazzurri from the running for the Round of 16.

“We know how important this game is and we are ready,” insisted the coach in his press conference.

Real Madrid made the trip without key players Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema, so Mariano Diaz seems likely to start.

“He has proved on the pitch what he can give us. We know how important Sergio is for us, but we can’t just stop because he’s injured.

“It’ll be like a Final tomorrow, we will be made to suffer, but approach this with the right mentality. This is football, there are moments when you feel strong and everything you try comes off, then other more complicated times when you have to roll your sleeves up. It’s not just at Real Madrid, but every team gets that.”

Real Madrid were held to a draw by Villarreal in La Liga at the weekend and struggled to beat Inter 3-2 in the Champions League last time out.

“We had been in front against Villarreal until the 74th minute, so it wasn’t that bad. We are concentrated and I am not a fatalist. Our future is in our hands and we are working to improve.

“There are many games to be played, it’s not easy with no real time to prepare, but there are no excuses and we’re all in the same boat. We always aim for the victory, no matter the circumstances, so we’re certainly not going there for a draw. There is an element of risk in every Champions League match, but we must always try to win.”

There have been some reports that Isco wants an exit, potentially in an exchange with Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen.

“Isco is with us, he is our player and we’re happy to have him.”

Zidane was teammates with Antonio Conte during their time together at Juventus.

“He was my captain, a real leader on the field. I always had a good rapport with Antonio and I still do.”

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