Zinedine Zidane insisted Saturday his key aim this season was to win La Liga with Real Madrid, but admitted they faced a thrilling challenge trying to outwit Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, who they meet in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Zidane, who has won three Champions Leagues as a coach compared to Guardiola’s two, described the Catalan as “the best coach in the world”.
The two sides meet in Madrid on February 26 before heading to Manchester for the second leg on March 17.
“It’ll be fabulous to play against him (Guardiola),” said Zidane, speaking ahead of Real’s game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, their final Liga match ahead of the winter break.
“I respected him as a player and now as a coach. He’s the top coach in the world and has proved it throughout his career.”
Guardiola coached Barcelona to the 2009 and 2011 Champions League titles. He went on to win plaudits at Bayern Munich and City with domestic championships but has failed to land a third Champions League title.
“So it’ll be a pleasure for me and a pleasure for all of us to come up against him and his team,” said Zidane.
Real are currently level with Barcelona on 36 points on top of la Liga after their 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Athletic Bilbao are seventh, nine points behind.
“Bilbao is another rival and a different proposition. We will play them with all our energy, it’s the last game of the year.
“The league is our priority and we will fight for it all the way,” he said.