Real hot shots ready for Ja­pan test, says Zi­dane

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane looked fraz­zled af­ter ar­riv­ing in Ja­pan yes­ter­day but he has promised his side will be ready for the Club World Cup.

The Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, chas­ing a sec­ond world ti­tle in three years, worked out the kinks as night fell, tal­is­man Cris­tiano Ron­aldo lead­ing the play­ers in a gen­tle jog around a pitch in chilly Yokohama.

“We’re very tired from the long flight of course,” a bleary-eyed Zi­dane told AFP. “But that’s nor­mal. We will un­tan­gle our­selves a bit and feel bet­ter af­ter a good night’s sleep.

“The se­ri­ous work starts to­mor­row,” added the French­man, whose side take on Mex­ico’s Club Amer­ica on Thurs­day for a place in the fi­nal. “We are here to win the Club World Cup. It’s an ex­tremely im­por­tant tar­get for Real Madrid.”

Zi­dane’s Span­ish ta­ble-top­pers, who have strung to­gether a club record 35-game un­beaten run, swept into Tokyo be­fore sun­rise on Mon­day and were greeted at the air­port by around 300 fans.

“Per­son­ally, I’m knack­ered,” said a smil­ing Zi­dane, who hoisted the Club World Cup’s fore­run­ner, the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Cup, with Real in 2002 and Ju­ven­tus in 1996.

“But the play­ers will be ready. We’re on a fan­tas­tic run and that’s be­cause we have a great bunch of play­ers-qual­ity play­ers, in­tel­li­gent play­ers-who work their socks off ev­ery day in train­ing to be as good as they are. “We have played nine matches in three weeks but we want to keep this run go­ing,” added the for­mer World Cup win­ner.

Real will be with­out Gareth Bale as they look to be crowned the world’s best team for a fifth time. The Welsh­man is re­cov­ing from an­kle surgery, but the Span­ish giants have been boosted by the re­turn of Ger­man Toni Kroos af­ter a metatarsal frac­ture.

Ron­aldo is ex­pected to take cen­tre stage as he waits to hear if he has won his third Bal­lon d’Or, set to be an­nounced later yes­ter­day-early Tues­day morn­ing Tokyo time.

“We will stay up tonight to see if he’s won,” said Brazil­ian de­fender Marcelo. “We’re all ner­vous to see if Cris­tiano wins. He’s a great player and he de­serves to win. I have so much re­spect for him.”

Real pres­i­dent Florentino Perez has de­manded the team com­plete a Cham­pi­ons League, UEFA Su­per Cup and Club World Cup tre­ble.

But Marcelo shrugged: “This is Real Madridwe’re obliged to win. We haven’t had much time to sleep and it’s a crazy sched­ule but it would be a dream for the play­ers to win this ti­tle.” —AFP

YOKOHAMA: Real Madrid’s Por­tuguese for­ward Chris­tiano Ron­aldo (L) and his team­mates run dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at Mit­suzawa sta­dium in Yokohama yes­ter­day. —AFP

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