Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has joked his team are ready to "eliminate" Liverpool in the next round of the UEFA Champions League, should the draw put them together.
Los Blancos had already secured their spot in the last 16 of the competition before their 3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday. They finished in second place in Group A behind Paris Saint-Germain, opening up the prospect of a challenging tie in the knockout stages.
Speaking about to the media his side, Zidane said he would fancy their chances up against anyone, even defending champions and Premier League leaders Liverpool.
"If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them," the Frenchman said when asked whether the Reds were the team to avoid. "We can't do anything about the draw."
The Merseyside outfit aren't the only difficult team that could come up against Los Blancos in the next round:
Zidane went on to reflect on the performance in Brugge, with Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr. and Luka Modric on the scoresheet for Madrid.
"We are happy with the victory and with the way we played," he said. "We had difficulty with our game since they usually play with five at the back and, today, they played with four. It took 10 or 15 minutes for the players to adjust. The second half was better in every area."
Here are the highlights from the encounter, in which Zidane made a number of changes to his usual starting lineup:
The group stage saw Madrid produce some inconsistent displays, and Zidane would have been particularly concerned by the 3-0 loss to PSG in Paris. However, there have been some signs of Madrid making improvements recently, and by the time the knockout stages come around, Zidane will be hoping Real are better equipped to deal with the rigours of European football.
While Zidane joked about the prospect of beating Liverpool, there's no doubt they are the side to avoid in the next round of the competition. Football writer Joel Rabinowitz praised the Reds after they qualified for the knockout phase with a win over Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday:
In his time as manager at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has never lost a two-legged European tie. In his first spell in charge at Real Madrid, the same applies for Zidane, who steered the team to three successive Champions League triumphs.
The two clubs have history in the competition too. They went head-to-head in the 2017-18 final, with Gareth Bale netting a memorable brace in a 3-1 win for Los Blancos; Reds star Mohamed Salah was infamously injured early in that game after a tangle with Sergio Ramos.