'Real Madrid are favourites for the Champions League' - Mendieta believes Zidane deserves more respect

Last Updated
Getty Images

Gaizka Mendieta believes Zinedine Zidane should be regarded as among the best managers in Europe, and thinks Real Madrid could be favourites to win the Champions League.

Madrid have won the competition 13 times, more than any club in the competition's history, and prepare to take on Jurgen Klopp's side in the second leg on Wednesday night. Zidane has won it four times as both a player and manager at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ahead of the upcoming clash, Mendieta was shocked to see that some labelled Madrid as outsiders against Liverpool, and to win the competition.

What did Mendieta say?

"How many Champions Leagues has Zidane won? Four! That's a lot of luck," Mendieta joked in an interview with Goal. "Any team in sport needs a bit of luck in specific games. For Zidane, as a manager, he might have had some luck but over the length of his management career, that's not why he has been successful.

"Look at the Clasico the other day, he put the team out tactically, not just to stop Barca, but he created harm and danger through his system. He read the game well with his substitutions. He doesn't get enough credit as he deserves for what he does.

"I think some people think it is luck but you can't be successful constantly through luck. He is one of the most impressive managers at the moment."

Zidane's big-game players

Mendieta played at Valencia, Barcelona and Lazio, while Zidane was at both Madrid and Juventus in a career that saw them in midfield battles across the 1990s and 2000s.

Mendieta went onto praise Zidane's side for their ability to up their performance in big games: "Madrid can switch on through their DNA in the Champions League to compete and win. They have key players missing but they still find a way.

"I think it is massively down to Zidane that even when players aren't regulars that they can step in and perform, so they don't miss their key players. It comes from motivation and preparation, with the manager who has helped Madrid since he has been there."

Gaizka Mendieta is the first of three UEFA Champions League legends to take part in Hotels.com Dream Island campaign, which is a hilarious new series that will take fans on a journey through the legend’s dream holidays. Dream Island launches ahead of the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League fixtures in partnership with digital publisher JOE. For more information go to www.hotels.com.

Further reading