Zinedine Zidane says Real Madrid, Tottenham rematch like a 'final'
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said that Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League draw at home to Tottenham set up a "final" where the Group H winner is likely to be decided at Wembley in two weeks' time.
Raphael Varane's own goal under pressure from Harry Kane gave the Premier League side a shock lead midway through the first half, with Cristiano Ronaldo equalising from the penalty spot before half-time after Toni Kroos had been felled by Serge Aurier.
Goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Keylor Navas came to the fore after the break, with the Spurs captain denying Karim Benzema and Ronaldo, and Navas stopping Kane and Christian Eriksen from getting a late winner for the visitors.
After Borussia Dortmund's surprise 1-1 draw at APOEL Nicosia, both Madrid and Tottenham are all but sure to progress, with the return at Wembley in a fortnight's time potentially deciding first and second place in the group.
"Now there is a return game at Wembley and we will go there to try and win it," Zidane told a news conference after the match. "We will see how the next game goes. The three points we did not get here, we will try and get them at Wembley, which is now a game like a final.
"It is not their home pitch, and we will try and go there and win the game. If we play away as we did in Dortmund, we will be happy."
Zidane said he could not be 100 percent happy with the result, but on balance a point a piece was "logical" given how well both goalkeepers had played.
"I am happy, not for the result, as we always want to win at home," he said. "But we played well, made chances, hit the post, and there was also a great goalkeeper, on both sides.
"Karim would have liked to score, especially the header he had. Lloris will only save one out of every 10 of those. They defended very well, worked very hard, and it's a logical result. "
Zidane admitted that his players had found it difficult to break down Tottenham's well organised defence, especially when the visitors had a result to defend.
"The problem is that if you can score early, the game is different," he said. "When you concede, the opposition can sit back. And they are very good defensively, they are strong, and we found it tough. The goal came when we played the ball quickly on the ground, with Toni, Karim and Isco, and we got the equaliser."
The former galactico admitted that at this early stage of the season, last year's La Liga and Champions League winners were not yet quite firing on all cylinders.
"We are improving all the time," he said. "Maybe we have not done well at home in La Liga, but we are better now on points, and we are top of the group in the Champions League. We know it is not perfect yet, but we are getting better for sure."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan