Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos hailed Zinedine Zidane’s tactical plan after their 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
The Champions League holders took a 3-1 last-16 first-leg lead into the clash at Parc des Princes and rarely looked like surrendering their advantage against the Ligue 1 leaders.
Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock 51 minutes in and Casemiro struck the winner with 10 minutes left to secure a 5-2 aggregate triumph, Edinson Cavani having briefly given 10-man PSG some hope after Marco Verratti’s red card.
Zidane opted against risking Luka Modric and Toni Kroos from the start after recent injuries, instead naming Mateo Kovacic and Casemiro in central midfield, with Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez on the wings.
The two wide players were particularly impressive, playing important roles in each goal, and Ramos felt the head coach got his game plan spot on.
That winning feeling #Priceless #UCL pic.twitter.com/34aOPEPU6T
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 6, 2018
“We knew it was a very good stage in our favourite competition. We’ve recovered our state of mind but we still haven’t won anything,” he told Antena 3.
“The coach’s plan was good. We prepared the system for how they would play. We kept up our high pressing and we stole the ball in their half.
“On the wings, they left space and we took advantage. We had good fortune in front of goal and hopefully that lasts.
“It’s never comfortable, even if it seems that way. There was a lot of physical effort. It was a very complete match from the whole team.
“Zidane is the one who is there day to day and who knows who is best at each moment. He knows us the best.”
From Paris with love! #HalaMadrid #23 #APorLa13 pic.twitter.com/6GeU0TOKjv
— Mateo Kovačić (@Mateo_Kova23) March 6, 2018
Madrid are finding form at the right time in their quest for a third Champions League triumph in a row, despite their inconsistent LaLiga performances leaving them 15 points behind leaders Barcelona.
Kovacic admits there is something that changes about the team when it comes to their European commitments.
“It feels good. It was really difficult. Paris play nice football, but we had a good game and we’re very happy,” he told BT Sport.
“We work every day on our game. We stayed very strong and we had a chance, we got a goal and that was very important.
“They had the ball more than us but we were very aggressive, everybody was running, and when we’re like this it’s difficult to beat us.
“It’s my third year here and it’s amazing how it changes when we play the Champions League. This club is born to play the Champions League.”
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