Real boss Zidane refusing to underestimate Manchester City

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane's men continued their preparations for Tuesday's trip to the Etihad with a 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane says his side's Champions League semi-final first leg with Manchester City will be a "50/50 game".

The 10-time European champions travel to the Etihad on the back of an impressive run that has seen them record just one defeat in their last 12 games in all competions, but the Frenchman insists he is not taking anything for granted against Manuel Pellegrini's men.

According to BBC Sport, Zidane said: "If you leave City space they can hurt you. The players get between the lines and cause you problems. We will try to stop that happening. Then, when we've got the ball we want to express ourselves. That's the plan.

"We'll do the best we possibly can here in this ground. City will put us under pressure and make things hard for us but we're ready for that."

Zidane has had an impressive impact on the fortunes of Los Blancos since succeeding Rafael Benitez in January.

As well as guiding his side to the last four of the Champions League, the three-time World Player of the Year has also brought Real to within one point of bitter rivals and La Liga leaders Barcelona.

And Zidane has been particularly impressed by the contribution of winger Gareth Bale in recent weeks, with the Welshman continuing his recent renaissance with a brace in the 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.

He said: "We needed Bale to step up, and he did so superbly. Like him, I'm very happy because he is making the difference."

Having previously endured a difficult spell at the Bernabeu, Bale is finally starting to recapture the form that saw his name mentioned among the world's best, and he is under no doubt that the stewardship of Zidane has been key factor.

He said: "He [Zidane] gives the whole team confidence to go out and express themselves like he did as a player."

Bale's current haul of 18 league goals is his highest tally since arriving in Spain and with an average of a goal every 87.5 minutes, the former Spurs star is actually in better form than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a record of a goal every 98.7 minutes.

However, City fans are unlikely to feel anything other than a sense of unease at the news Ronaldo could make a return to the side for Tuesday's game.

The forward was ruled out of last weekend's win after sustaining a thigh injury against Villarreal, but Zidane is confident the former Manchester United star will win his fitness race along with striker Karim Benzema, who also suffered an injury scare during their last game.

According to PA Sport, Zidane added: "The idea is we want them [Ronaldo and Benzema] to play but we have got the last training session now.

"We will see but they are fine at the moment and I think they will be fine. We will test everything. The idea is they will play. I think they will be 100 per cent."

Should the pair appear alongside Bale, City will be facing a three-pronged attack that has netted 72 league goals between them this season.

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