October 22, 2016

Runners-up Real eyes Champs final

Real Madrid`s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal. REUTERS

After losing out by one point to title winners Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday, Real Madrid’s attention turned to the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid in Milan in two weeks’ time.

Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 in the final La Liga game of the season, recording a 12th straight win in the competition, but Barca’s 3-0 victory at Granada pipped them to the first prize.

“We’re a little disappointed after the effort we made but now we’re only thinking about Milan,” Zidane told a news conference after his team finished as runners-up.

“After 38 league games we can’t change the fact Barcelona are champions. They deserved to win the league but I take my hat off to my lads.”

Real’s hopes looked dead and buried after losing to Atletico at the end of February and falling 12 points behind Barcelona. However, that defeat sparked their surge of 12 victories in a row.

“We might have had difficult moments but we never gave up and we kept fighting to the end,” said Zidane.

“I’m very proud of everyone in this team, all I can do is give them encouragement. We’re lucky to be playing in the Champions League final and now we have to rest and prepare well for that game,”

The one consolation for Real is the opportunity to land an 11th European Cup when they meet Atletico, hoping for a repeat of the win over their neighbours in the 2014 final.

“We’ve improved a lot and now we have a final to try and finish the season on a high,” said defender Marcelo. “It’s always difficult to win the league and we made a bad start and were 12 points behind the leaders.

“It’s difficult when Real Madrid finish a season without a trophy, Real has to always win something. We’re going to work very hard in the next two weeks to reach the final in good shape because it’s going to be really tough.”

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