Abu Dhabi: If Real Madrid think Al Jazira are easy, the Spanish giants will ‘break down and lose’ today’s sold-out Fifa Club World Cup semi-final at Zayed Sports City from 9pm, according to Los Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane.
The UAE champions from Abu Dhabi qualified to this tournament as hosts and have surprisingly made it through to the last four, which is the furthest an Emirati club has ever been in this competition.
“[Al Jazira] is a team that’s going to play its chance, they are going to do their best to fight and play against our team. I think it will be a challenging match.””Share on facebookTweet this
Now they will face the European champions, with even Al Jazira’s coach Henk ten Cate admitting his side will have to park three buses across the goalline to stop Real from scoring.
But Zidane doesn’t think it will be all plain sailing.
“It’s not easy for us, no match is easy,” he said. “We have a semi-final against an opponent that everyone says is going to be an easy match for us, but if we think like that we will break down and lose.
“We don’t think it’s going to be easy, on the contrary we think it will be very hard.”
Drawing from last year’s Fifa Club World Cup final in Japan where they were taken to extra time by local hosts Kashima Antlers, before winning 4-2, he said: “As you could see from last year, whenever we play in this competition, when you play against Madrid everyone wants to do their best. Anything can happen in football and that’s why we have to be very well concentrated and prepared and that’s what we are trying to do.
“When we got to know who our opponents would be we studied this team. Before I didn’t know this team, but now I know them much better. It’s a team that’s going to play its chance, they are going to do their best to fight and play against our team. For them it’s the match of the year to play Real, so we have to be ready and I think it will be a challenging match.”
Of his side’s reception in Abu Dhabi, where they are staying at the Four Seasons on Al Maryah Island and training at New York University on Al Saadiyat Island, he said: “I’m very happy about the city and happy with the welcome of the people. They like this club a lot and it’s always nice to see Real supported.”
Should Real Madrid win this tournament – with the final to be played on Saturday at the same venue – it would be the first time the club has won five titles in a calendar year, and Zidane said the prospect was exciting.
“Yes, of course, it motivates me and the players to have another title. We are looking for it and want to defend the title we won last year.
“For that we have come here and want to come back with a trophy and that’s what we will try to do.
“We know it’s not easy, first we have to pass the semi before we can try and win the title, and we are only thinking about this competition.”
titles in a year for the first time, if Real Madrid wins