Zinedine Zidane has refused to accept that Real Madrid are the favourites to go through the Champions League final ahead of the hotly-anticipated visit of Atletico Madrid to the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night (2 May). Meanwhile, the French boss has confirmed that Raphaël Varane is ready to return to action in the first leg of the tie after having made his 21-man squad.
Real Madrid have become the nemesis Diego Simeone's side in recent years after having ended their hope of winning the Champions League in the last three campaigns, beating Los Colchoneros in the finals of 2014 and 2016 as well as in the quarterfinals of the 2014-2015 campaign.
However, the Real Madrid boss said that the tie is 50-50 this time and urged his players to approach the game as if there's no a second leg to be played at the Vicente Calderon.
"We're not favourites, it's a semi-final and it's 50-50, as always. We'll try to do our best to win the game. We have to concentrate only on tomorrow's match, not on the second-leg," Zidane said in the press conference ahead of the game.
"It's a semi-final, we know what we have to do, but the Bernabéu crowd is a bonus for the team. For Atlético and for us it is a different tie than the previous ones. It's a semi-final with two games. We'll have extra motivation because it's a semi-final. What's gone before is in the past. The past serves for nothing. It's different now and we'll all do our best to get to the final."
Real Madrid also secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Valencia on weekend in order to keep alive their hope of beating Barcelona for the La Liga title.
Zidane rested Varane in that game after the France centre-back had only returned from an injury in the previous win over Deportivo La Coruna. Yet, the boss said that his compatriot is fully fit to face Atletico and could start alongside Sergio Ramos in the heart of the defence to stop Antonie Griezmann and co.
"Varane is feeling well and fully recovered," Zidane confirmed. "Pepe is still missing. The other three centre backs are all in very good condition. I'm happy to have all three available for this final stretch. We've had several games with only two centre backs available and it's better to have three".
Gareth Bale and Fábio Coentrão have also failed to make Zidane's 21-man squad for the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, but the boss still has plenty of options to replace the former Tottenham star.
James Rodriguez was the chosen one against Valencia to form the attack alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema but reports in Spain are suggesting that Isco or young Marco Asensio will take Bale's place on Tuesday night.
"He looks good to me. He's been playing well and he has a chance to play, but I'm not going to say who'll play tomorrow," Zidane replied when asked about whether James will remain in the line-up.