Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema are at 100 percent - Real Madrid's Zidane
MANCHESTER -- Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has laid to rest doubts over the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema for Tuesday's Champions League semifinal first leg at Manchester City.
Portugal captain Ronaldo missed Saturday's 3-2 La Liga victory at Rayo Vallecano with a muscle problem while Benzema limped off before half-time against Rayo with an apparent hamstring problem.
The former France international included all of his players in the squad and both trained at the Etihad ahead of Tuesday's first leg.
"The plan is for Cristiano and Benzema to play, but there is still one more training session and so we shall see," he said during Monday's news conference. "Right now they are in perfect shape, they have both recuperated phenomenally and I would say they are at 100 percent. The plan is for them to play tomorrow."
Zidane compared this squad to the 2014 team that won La Decima, the club's 10th European Cup/Champions League title.
"The players are clearly focused and in 2014 we had the same atmosphere," he told reporters on Monday. "I can see that all of the players are focused for this important challenge. But at the same time we know this is going to be difficult, we saw that in Wolfsburg. We have to remain focused for 90 minutes here and then we have the return leg, although at this moment we are only thinking about the first match."
The 43-year-old Los Blancos boss said that making the trip with the entire team was intentional.
"Our idea was that everyone should be together and that is why we have all travelled," he said. "There are some players who play more, others less, but they are all important. The idea was to put everyone together and to pay attention to those who play less. There are four who will eventually be left out, I will speak with them. That will be the most difficult decision I will have to make."
Zidane admitted that he will set up his side to be cautious after being beaten 2-0 in the quarterfinal first leg at Wolfsburg before turning around the tie at the Bernabeu.
"I'm not going to tell you whether a draw is a good or bad result. It's a 50-50 game," said the former French international.
"Over in Wolfsburg we found it difficult. When they scored we suffered a little bit. We don't want that to happen again. We need to be try and be strong defensively because we know we'll be put under pressure. But I think we can unleash our weapons in attack.
"When you're away from home the most important thing is to keep the goal in tact and get that away goal."
Zidane also said he didn't necessarily believe that his more experienced team would have an advantage.
"Yes and no. One can prepare well for a match and then the situation that is presented can be very different from what one was expecting," he said. "In a semifinal, one has to give 150 percent. We have one match and that is the one tomorrow. We are going to give it our all on the field against a rival who will make it very difficult for us. That much we know."
Zidane believes it will be vital that they stop City dangerman Kevin de Bruyne.
The Belgium international scored in both legs of the quarterfinal victory over Paris St-Germain and the Madrid boss warned that his link-up with striker Sergio Aguero could be a threat to his side.
"Our plan is to try to stop De Bruyne. He is playing very well. Since he got here [Etihad] he has been showing his quality and he gets the ball to [Sergio] Aguero very well," Zidane said. "But we will see tomorrow. We are going to try to stop him."