Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane with Karim Benzema after he comes off as a substitute during the match against Eibar in Madrid, Spain on April 3, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he believes his side is undervalued as they prepare for their Champions League quarterfinal first leg at home against Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Tuesday marks the start of a vital week for Zidane’s side, who faces Liverpool twice in eight days with the ‘Clasico’ at home to FC Barcelona sandwiched in the middle.

Despite criticism this season, Real Madrid is now just two points off the top of the La Liga table and now playing for a place in the Champions League semifinals.

“I think my team has been undervalued,” said the coach. “I have a lot of confidence in them and what they can do… We never give up while we have a chance and we are going to battle for everything.”

Zidane decided to leave Eden Hazard out of his squad after it was expected that the Belgian winger would be able to return to action after yet another muscle injury.

“We talked about it a lot, but Hazard has to relax as the most important thing is for him to fully recover. Although I don’t think he came back too soon last time, this time we are going to take things step by step and see what happens,”

“I want to have all of my players fit and I don’t like it when one of them is injured, so we want Hazard back as soon as possible,” he explained.

Zidane said that although the tie was two games, he was not looking beyond Tuesday against a rival he described as “a very complete side, with three very good forwards (Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino) and they also play well as a team.”

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the 2018 Champions League final which saw Sergio Ramos injure Salah early in the game. Ramos is out injured for the tie and Zidane insisted that for Tuesday “we are not thinking about the past, you have to live in the present for both teams. It’s a different game for them and for us as well.”