12 Dec Zinedine Zidane warns Real Madrid Club World Cup success will not come easy
Real Madrid cannot just turn up at the FIFA Club World Cup and expect to bring the trophy back to Spain, according to head coach Zinedine Zidane.
The European champions jetted out to the United Arab Emirates on the back of a 5-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla.
Wednesday’s semi-final will see Los Blancos take on Al Jazira at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, where Gareth Bale is expected to return from a calf injury.
And Zidane insists Real are fully focused on the task at hand as they aim to win a third Club World Cup in four years.
“It is an important competition and we are not going to just play a league match for this trophy. We have the illusion of being able to return home with the title,” Zidane said in an interview with Real Madrid TV.
“It will not be easy. Last year we had a lot of difficulties against the Japanese (Kashima Antlers), but we did it. We are not going to have easy games and it is not just because we are Real Madrid that we are going to win.
“We have time to prepare the matches and there are no excuses. We have to prepare with the maximum enthusiasm to return with the trophy.”
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The winners will head to Saturday’s final, where their opponents will be either Brazilian team Gremio or Mexican side Pachuca. But defender Marcelo is not getting ahead of himself.
“We’ve got the semi-final first, and we have to win it, so that we can then start thinking about the final,” the Brazilian said in an interview with FIFA.com.
“We want to win the Club World Cup, which is a very important tournament, but we know that we have to take things one game at a time.
“We can’t just turn up and say, ‘We’re going to win and that’s that’. No, you have to respect all the teams, like they respect us, and give all you can to win the title.”
Al Jazira will be cheered on by their home support in Abu Dhabi, after booking their place in the semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Urawa Red Diamonds.
Forward Ali Mabkhout is hoping such a partisan crowd can continue to lift the ‘Pride of Abu Dhabi’.
“We don’t just play as Jazira now, we play for the UAE,” he said. “We know (Real Madrid) are one of the best teams in the world and this is the incentive for all the players.”