Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane: Everyone dreams about UCL success
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said the dream of Champions League success remained alive but is not thinking about it yet after Tuesday evening's 2-0 last 16 second leg win against Roma sent his side through 4-0 on aggregate to the quarterfinals.
Having been 2-0 down from the first leg, Roma had chances to come back into the tie through winger Mohamed Salah, but after half-time Cristiano Ronaldo scored one goal and made another for James Rodriguez as Madrid eased home.
With Barcelona 12 points ahead of them with just 10 games remaining in the La Liga title race, Madrid's chances of success this season rest on Europe, but Zidane told his postmatch news conference that for now he and his players would be switching back to domestic matters.
"I'm happy with the game, with what we did," Zidane said. "We had chances, and in the second half defended better. Now I am thinking about resting, first, and from Thursday to think about our La Liga game at Las Palmas.
"Then we will see who we get in the draw, and prepare. Everyone dreams about doing something in the Champions League, and we are there to aim for that. We have a professional group. I know it's difficult as we are in a difficult position, but for now it is about Sunday's game."
Zidane had surprised with his starting XI decision as home-grown fan favourites Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal were displaced by underperforming big signings Danilo and James, with Gareth Bale also getting a first start in almost two months following his return from injury.
Ronaldo's goal took him to 13 in this year's competition -- four off the record tally he managed in 2013-14 -- and Zidane said the Portuguese had played well in what was not his typical position in the team.
"[Cristiano] played well, but that is the idea," he said. "At the start he was central, but we know Cristiano can pick up any position. That was the idea, to change around. We started with Bale on the left, and I was happy with his work, he caused danger with his crosses.
"James was on the right, but always movement. That's what I want, as they can all play anywhere in the front three. Then there is the defensive duties -- and Cristiano was more in the centre [without the ball]."
The game was still scoreless when winger Lucas Vazquez, 24, came on for Bale and then almost immediately produced a perfect cross for Ronaldo to crash into the net at the near post.
"[Lucas Vazquez] deserves to start games, but they all do," Zidane said. "It's difficult to leave people out, there are also players not even in the squad. The important thing is that each player gives their all, if they play 90, or 30, or 15. Whenever Lucas plays he does his job. I am happy with that."
Salah caused havoc in the Madrid defence while Roma still had hope in the game, with left-back Marcelo and left sided centre-back Sergio Ramos both often left trailing in his wake, but Zidane said that overall he was content with how his back four had played.
"I see the team secure, they can make chances over the 90 minutes," he said. "It's true that in the first half they could have scored, but that is normal in a Champions League game against a difficult opponent who had to come out and play. [Roma] played very well tonight.
"Whenever they create chances on you, you must get angry, but that is normal. We want to play our game, to take risks, and that can happen sometimes. In the first half above all. In the second half, after talking with the players, we controlled it a bit better in defence."