Exhausted Real won't rest on laurels at Anfield, says Zidane

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain - April 10, 2021 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during the match REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

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LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said his side will not seek to just cling on to their 3-1 lead when they visit Liverpool in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg despite recently admitting his players are exhausted.

Real head into the decider at Anfield following a run of six consecutive wins in all competitions and on a high after beating arch-rivals Barcelona 2-1 on Saturday to move one point behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Yet they do so with a depleted and increasingly tired squad due to a punishing run of injuries at the decisive stage of the campaign, which prompted Zidane to say after the win over Barca that his team were "stretched to the limit".

But he insisted his players would not be looking to reserve any energy against Liverpool.

"We're not going to try and manage our effort levels, we've come here to win and that's what we'll try to do," Zidane told a news conference.

"We've spoken about this with the team, we made a huge effort in the first leg and against Barcelona but we're used to it."

Real travelled to Merseyside with a similar squad to the one that beat Juergen Klopp's side last week in the Spanish capital, still missing defenders Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and record signing Eden Hazard.

They will also be without Lucas Vazquez, who sustained a knee injury against Barcelona which has ended his season.

The French coach did not give any clues as to whether right back Alvaro Odriozola would get a rare start in place of Vazquez or give any other hints about his starting 11.

But he highlighted his side's ability to overcome adversity, which has seen them recover from a poor start domestically and in Europe to emerge as serious contenders for the Liga title and a shot at adding to their record 13 European Cup triumphs.

"A lot of things have happened to us this season, we are missing a lot of players right now and, while I'd love to have them all available, we're going to make sure we put in our best performances with the players we have," Zidane added.

"This team always comes together in the toughest of times, which shows the character we have."

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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