Zinedine Zidane insisted his Real Madrid team were “ready” for their Champions League final showdown with Liverpool after suggesting they had their showdown with Liverpool on their minds following a 2-2 draw in their last LaLiga match of the season.
Zidane handed a debut to his 20-year-old son Luca as first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas was rested ahead of the European clash in Kiev on May 26, but otherwise named a strong side at Estadio de la Ceramica.
Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo put Real two goals to the good inside 32 minutes but Villarreal substitutes Roger Martinez and Samu Castillejo struck in the final 19 minutes to secure a dramatic draw for the Yellow Submarine.
Real, who will finish third in LaLiga, now switch their attention to next weekend where they are bidding to become the first club to be crowned European champions for three successive seasons since Bayern Munich in 1976.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to head into the final on the back of a victory, Zidane insisted his squad were in good shape to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium next Saturday night.
“I haven’t got my starting XI for the Champions League final in my head. We’re ready,” he said at a press conference.
“Also we haven’t picked up any injuries tonight, which was important. We’re ready for this last match and Kiev final, which is the most special game of the season.”
And Zidane admits Real had the European showdown on their minds as they let slip their two-goal lead against Villarreal.
“We were good in the first half, but in the second period we managed the game with the final in mind. When that happens, the opposition can make life hard for you,” he said in quotes reported on the club’s official website: “The LaLiga season didn’t start well for us, but we have finished strongly. We have the biggest game to come and we’re going to enjoy that.
“LaLiga is now over. We have the Champions League to play and we’re thrilled to be in the final.
“It shouldn’t be a case of choosing. We want to win everything we can, but this year it wasn’t possible to win LaLiga and we are going all out for Champions League glory.”