Real Madrid come into their own in critical moments, says Zidane

·2-min read
Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Atalanta v Real Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said his side always thrive in adverse situations as they prepare to host Real Sociedad in La Liga on Monday aiming to continue to rein in La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Real slipped 10 points behind Atletico with a 2-1 defeat at home to Levante at the end of January but have turned their stuttering campaign around with a flawless run in February despite a crippling injury crisis.

They also are the only Spanish side to have won the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, winning 1-0 at Atalanta on Wednesday after Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico lost their home fixtures.

"That's how this team works, when the tide turns against us, we know how to impose ourselves in the critical moments," Zidane told reporters.

"We know you will always experience difficulties in a season but you always have good moments too. But the campaign is very long, there's a lot of games left, and we still haven't achieved anything."

Real go into Monday's game sitting third in the standings after Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-0 on Saturday to rejoin the title race.

Zidane said he never thought Atletico would run away with the championship.

"Right now it's between three teams, before people said only one team could win it, soon it will be down to two teams. But we've always felt it was open. There's 42 points left to play for and we'll keep only focusing on ourselves," he added.

Real's injury problems were eased by Federico Valverde and Alvaro Odriozola returning to training but they are still without top scorer Karim Benzema, captain Sergio Ramos and record signing Eden Hazard.

(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)