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Friday 17 August 2018

Zidane: I wouldn't swap Ronaldo for Liverpool ace Salah

Watchful eye: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane watches as Cristiano Ronaldo trains yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool
Watchful eye: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane watches as Cristiano Ronaldo trains yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has stressed he would not swap Cristiano Ronaldo for Liverpool's Mohamed Salah.

Ronaldo, 33, and fellow forward Salah, 25, have each scored 44 goals in all competitions for their clubs this season ahead of Saturday's Champions League final between Los Blancos and the Reds in Kiev.

When asked if he would swap Ronaldo for Salah, a player with whom Real have been linked, Zidane said: "No, I have Cristiano and I talk about my players."

While five-time winners Liverpool are in their first European Cup final since 2007, defending champions Real have lifted the trophy three times in the last four seasons, and 12 times in total.

Zidane, who has overseen the triumphs of 2016 and 2017, was keen to emphasise that Real will have "the same desire as always".

When asked if he thought Liverpool were more hungry, Zidane said: "I can't tell you about the opponent. I don't know what they are.

"What I can say is that we will have the same desire as always. This club is what it is: the same enthusiasm, dedication and desire as always. And nobody can take that away or tell us that we are less hungry than others. No-one.

"We are Madrid and this club is what it is. We always want more and we will give everything to try to do it in the best way."

It was put to Zidane that Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are a similar team to his own, and the Frenchman said: "I don't know if we are the same. I don't think we play in the same way as a team.

"What I fear about this team (Liverpool)? All the talk is about the three up front (Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane) or that they are weaker at the back... No, they deserve to be in the final just like us, they are a close group.

"Our job, with the backroom staff, is to prepare well for the match, find the opponent's weaknesses and try to hurt them."

He added: "They (Liverpool) have had a great season, in the Champions League and in the (Premier) League. They can cause us problems, we know that.

"We are not going to be surprised. Nor them with us. We know each other very well."

Liverpool finished fourth in the Premier League this season, while Real came third in LaLiga.

Zidane was asked if the season would be a failure if Real lost on Saturday.

And the 45-year-old, whose entire squad trained yesterday, told realmadrid.com: "It will not be a waste.

"The big failure for me, as I said before, was in the Copa del Rey because we lost at home and were knocked out (against Leganes in the quarter-finals). That was a cruel blow for us. But that's it.

"Real Madrid always look to win, but you can't always count on it. The important thing for us is show our drive and ensure we don't slip up. You need setbacks in life if you want to improve."

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