Zidane wants Real primed for Apoel clash

Nov 20, 2017 - 7:14 PM Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is preparing his players for the Champions League meeting with Apoel Nicosia as if it were a second derby of the week.

Los Blancos shared a rare goalless draw with city rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday, a result that boosted Barcelona's hopes of winning La Liga, and just two days later Real left for Cyprus for a match against opposition they beat 3-0 in September.

"We want to show the same determination we demonstrated against Atletico. We are one step away from the last 16 and tomorrow we want all three points," said Zidane.

"It's not going to be an easy game. They're a club who are doing really well in the Champions League.

"They deserve to be in the Champions League and when they came to the Bernabeu they played very well. It will be a difficult game tomorrow and we have to be prepared."

A shock defeat to Girona and the derby draw with Atletico have left Real 10 points adrift of leaders Barcelona, while a 3-1 loss to Tottenham in their last Champions League outing means the holders still have work to do to qualify for the last 16.

However, a victory over Group H minnows Apoel would ensure Real will be through to the knockout stages for a 15th successive season.

A draw might also be enough for Real should Borussia Dortmund fail to beat already-qualified Spurs.

Real will be without forward Gareth Bale and goalkeeper Keylor Navas once again, while captain Sergio Ramos is unavailable after breaking his nose in the derby.

With a five-point gap to Real, Apoel coach Giorgos Donis says their main goal is to try and pip Dortmund to third place, with both clubs currently level on two points.

That does not mean wounded Real will be given a free ride, though and Donis t said: "We must be very focused, and have respect but not fear.

"You need to have courage for this game, it's our last Champions League game at home and we need to give our best, give the fans something to be happy about."

Source: AAP

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