Zinedine Zidane has said Real Madrid will have failed if they do not make the Champions League final, despite having to face Manchester City without two key stars in the shape of Karim Benzema and Casemiro. The French manager was forced to dump the duo from his 21-man squad ahead of the semi-final second leg on 4 May due to injury, but has been able to call upon the services of the returning Cristiano Ronaldo. Academy prospect Borja Mayoral has been called up in Benzema's place.
Los Blancos need a victory over Manuel Pellegrini's side at the Santiago Bernabeu, having drawn 0-0 away last week. Ronaldo missed that game with a muscular problem, while Benzema was replaced at half-time after coming down with a similar injury.
Zidane revealed on Friday the pair would miss the league match with Real Sociedad – which the club won 1-0 – but hoped they would be back for the City match to form the BBC trident alongside Gareth Bale.
However, Zizou has now revealed that not only will Benzema miss the encounter, but Casemiro will too after the Brazilian picked up a knock in the win at Anoeta.
"Casemiro and Karim Benzema are different cases, we don't want to risk Benzema at the moment and Casemiro has a slight problem. However we have a big squad that can help us cover all options," the Real Madrid boss said in a press conference.
The Casemiro news is a particularly big blow for Real, as the Brazilian is their only specialist holding midfielder. The former Porto man has become a key player since Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez in the dugout, especially in crucial matches like the El Clasico win over Barcelona and the Champions League comeback against Wolfsburg.
Even so, Zidane is convinced his squad can cope without the Brazilian deep-lying midfielder.
He said: ''We are going to try and replace Casemiro, he has his own type of game but we have other players who can play the same role, we are going to try and play the most competitive team possible, whoever plays will do the work of Casemiro."
Zidane added that Real Madrid have no excuses if they do not beat Manchester City, admitting that the opposite would be a failure.
"We've not won anything yet. We're in good form and our plan is to do as much as possible tomorrow: play the game we need to play to make it to the final. If we don't go through it will have been a failure, obviously, because we want to go through," the boss confirmed.
Zidane also revealed that he hopes Ronaldo's return would help them achieve their aim, especially after his goals were severely missed at the Etihad.
"Cristiano is not a risk, he is well, he is training and he is 100%. We'll see in the game tomorrow but today he is 100%. His recovery isn't a question of two days, it's been a week. He's recovered bit by bit. He is a player who is like that, he recovers quickly and he looks after himself a lot. We need Cristiano at 100% and the good thing is that he is always on the field.
"He's a different player and his statistics show that. I would have like to have also had Casemiro and Karim, but others will play and we will do well."