Zidane admits he doesn’t know whether Eden Hazard will return this season after suffering a fractured ankle.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane says he has “learned a lot” from Pep Guardiola, and reiterated his belief that the Manchester City manager is the “best” in the world.
Zidane and Guardiola secured legendary status as players at Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively, before going on to become managers of the Spanish giants, but the pair will meet for the first time as coaches when Real host City in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.
Between his spells with Barcelona and Manchester City, Guardiola spent three seasons in charge at Bayern Munich, during which Zidane, who had yet to begin his managerial career, visited Germany to observe the Catalan in action.
“He always proved that,” Zidane said. “First with Barcelona, then with Munich, now with Man City. That’s my opinion. Some people can think other coaches are better but for me, he is the best.”
“Obviously we are inspired by what he’s done. That motivates us even more. We’re not afraid of playing against Guardiola or his teams.
“I’ve mentioned before that I’ve spent a few days with him when he was at Bayern, talking about training, how to manage a team, and he was quite honest, quite open, and I learned a lot talking with him.”
Real will be without Eden Hazard for the tie after the former Chelsea winger fractured his ankle during their 1-0 La Liga loss to Levante on Saturday.
Hazard had only returned to action a week earlier having missed almost three months with a similar problem, which has led some to criticise the decision for the Belgian not to undergo surgery when he suffered the initial injury in November.
“I’m no one to say if he needed to have surgery or not,” Zidane said. “There are competent people who know about it.
“He likes to play football and he’s not going to be able to so I can tell you what I see in his eyes, he’s not happy.
“Now is a bad moment for him and I believe that for a few days it’s going to be like that.
“I don’t know if he’s going to have surgery or not. All I know is that he’s not happy. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if the season is over for him, but I hope not.”