Zinedine Zidane has hit back at Jurgen Klopp’s criticism of Real Madrid’s Alfredo di Stefano stadium after the Liverpool coach called it “a training ground” compared to “a proper stadium” like Anfield.
Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg at the 6,000 capacity venue on Tuesday night, with Vinicius Junior scoring twice.
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“We’ve obviously got used to empty stadiums but this is completely different,” Klopp had said pre-match. “This is a training ground… It’s very different to anything else we’ve experienced.”
Zidane was firm on the ground when asked about it in a postmatch news conference.
“This is our stadium,” he said. “We play here, and we’re proud to play here at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.”
Real Madrid have been playing at the Di Stefano — which forms a part of the Real Madrid City training complex on the outskirts of the Spanish capital and is usually home to their B-team Castilla — since June last year, when La Liga returned from a three-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their last match at their usual home, the Bernabeu, was a 2-0 El Clasico win over Barcelona on March 1 2020.
The Bernabeu is undergoing major, €500 million redevelopment work — including a roof and a retractable pitch — which isn’t expected to be fully completed until the 2022-23 season.
According to the club, the dimensions of the pitch and quality of the playing surface at the Alfredo di Stefano are identical to those at the Bernabeu.
“It must be a really tricky task for Real Madrid at Anfield, with or without supporters,” Klopp said, speaking after the 3-1 defeat. “This here tonight was really strange, it was really difficult, a different situation with the stadium. Anfield is at least a proper stadium and that will be good for us.”
Madrid travel to Anfield next Wednesday for the return leg, after facing Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday.
The club have only ever played Liverpool twice at Anfield.
They were thrashed 4-0 in March 2009 in the round-of-16, with Steven Gerrard scoring a brace for Rafa Benitez’s team, who progressed 5-0 on aggregate.
In the 2014-15 group stage, though, Madrid were 3-0 winners against Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema on the scoresheet.