“Real Madrid are back” according to defender Sergio Ramos after the reigning European champions won at Paris Saint-Germain to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Madrid won 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening to qualify 5-2 on aggregate and reach the last eight and keep alive their dreams of lifting the trophy for a third straight year.
Last year’s Champions League and La Liga double winners had a difficult first half of the 2017-18 season, falling well behind runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona, exiting the Copa del Rey to humble neighbours Leganes, and also stumbling in the group stage when losing 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur in November.
There were fears around the Bernabeu when their side were drawn against PSG but Zinedine Zidane’s side were far superior over the two legs, with second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro securing their progress.
Speaking to Antena 3 afterwards, Madrid captain Ramos said the Champions League was Madrid’s “favourite tournament” and they had been true to their identity by coming good once again on the big stage.
“Very happy, very satisfied with the great game by the team,” Ramos said. “We knew this was a great stage to prove ourselves again in our favourite tournament. We showed a lot of identity. Real Madrid are back, we have recovered our mindset. We are happy to have gone through, but have won nothing yet.”
Ramos also backed Zidane’s tactical plan for Tuesday’s game, which included fielding wingers Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez, and leaving higher profile Gareth Bale and Isco on the bench.
“The team set-up chosen by our coach was very good,” he said. “We knew the system we were going to play. We knew how to press them, win the ball in their half. They left space on the wings, and we took advantage. We had good fortune in front of goal, and hopefully that continues.”
Vazquez, 26, set up both goals on what was just his second career Champions League knockout stage start.
“The coach is doing a great job, we’re all really pleased with it because he gives everyone their chance,” he told reporters. “We’re all on it and raring to do our bit to help the team. We proved that we’re still the kings of of Europe.”
Asensio, 22, told Antena 3 that he felt Zidane trusted everyone in the Madrid squad, and was not swayed by a player’s profile or CV.
“The boss trusts in all of us, he showed that today,” the former Real Mallorca player said. “He does not care too much about the names. We are all a team, we win together, and lose together, and rowing in the same direction is the sign of a good team.”