Captain Sergio Ramos told Zinedine Zidane he was "the one and only" as the Real Madrid head coach quit the Spanish giants.

Zidane stood down five days after his team missed out on the LaLiga title to Atletico Madrid, finishing second in the table, two points off top spot.

Madrid ended the season empty handed but have achieved plenty of success during Zidane's two spells in charge, which were separated by a chaotic nine months in which Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari both struggled to get to grips with the job.

It is unclear whether Zidane wants to work again as a coach, or whether he has other plans, but there was an outpouring of thanks from senior Madrid stars on Thursday.

Ramos said on Instagram: "ZZ, the one and only. I wish you all the best. You deserve it, you've earned it.

"Enjoy life, enjoy family. Big hug, mister. Thank you, @zidane."

High hopes and aspirations for Zidane's second stint in charge resulted in just one major title, the 2019-20 LaLiga.

With Cristiano Ronaldo having followed Zidane in leaving at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, success has not come quite as easily as it did previously, with three Champions League titles the highlight of his first period as boss.

Striker and fellow Frenchman Karim Benzema wrote: "Thank you bro for everything you have given me both collectively and personally ...

"I am proud and honoured to have been able to move forward and grow with the man that you are. See you ..."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois added: "It has been an honor to have a legend like you as a coach. Thank you for what you have taught me, for the trust you have always had in me and for what we have won together @zidane. Hopefully we meet again. I wish you the best!"

Zidane left Madrid with a 59.65 per cent winning record from his second spell, which began in March 2019, down on the 69.8 per cent he achieved in his previous 149 games at the helm.

It has been tougher without Ronaldo, who left for Juventus but has frequently been linked with a possible return that has yet to come to fruition.

In the first spell, which ran from January 2016 to the end of May 2018, Real Madrid had eight hat-tricks by players in LaLiga – Ronaldo with six of those – and a big chance conversion rate of 45.74 per cent.

Since returning to the club, Madrid have had just one hat-trick in the league, from Benzema, and their big chance conversion rate has dipped to 43.67 per cent overall and just 40.86 per cent in 2020-21 compared to Atletico's 48.19 per cent.

Veteran playmaker Luka Modric, a player whose skillset evokes memories of Zidane in his playing days for Los Blancos, only signed a new contract this week.

Modric must now wait to learn who his coach will be for the coming season, his 10th at Madrid.

The 35-year-old thanked Zidane for backing his ability to run games by saying: "Mister, It's been a great honor playing for you and winning alongside you. You are top. Best of luck"

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is braced for a "cup final" at Stamford Bridge after Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea left the Champions League tie evenly poised.

Karim Benzema scored a 29th-minute equaliser as Madrid rallied from behind to draw at home to Chelsea in the opening leg of their semi-final tie in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Madrid made a sluggish start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, though Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

"The return leg will be like a cup final. Their aggression and intensity, which was greater than ours, took its toll," Courtois said post-match after facing former side Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles before leaving in 2018.

"We wanted to make the sort of start that they did and apply a high press. They gave their all. We struggled a bit more in the opening 20-25 minutes.

"We have to improve on the balls over the top. We were more in control in the second half."

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – have they had fewer in a Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in Champions League play. Still, they are the team who have scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"With the score at 1-1, the second leg is like a cup final. I don't think it will finish 0-0," added Courtois. "They might be more relaxed about it, but I think they would be wrong to sit back.

"We caused them problems when we were in possession. We'll see what kind of game it is. When we analyse it with Zidane, we'll see what the plan is for Stamford Bridge."

Madrid head coach Zidane added: "The team have faith on what we work. That's the most important. We know our skills and trust them. We trying to do our best in each game.

"It is not easy because playing every three days different games against very good teams, like today, it is tough. But we are confident on our chances and we will try to comeback in the second leg.

"We will go to win the game, and especially, we know we need to score there."

Zinedine Zidane told Real Madrid to keep going "to the death" after a goalless draw at Getafe hit their LaLiga title prospects.

Having cut Atletico Madrid's lead down to one point by winning El Clasico, Zidane's defending champions were second best at times at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Sunday.

Hampered by injuries and COVID-19 absences, under-strength Madrid needed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make six saves to repel a lively Getafe.

That was the highest number of saves from shots on target that the Belgian has made in games for Madrid where he has not conceded a goal, and centre-back Eder Militao was also kept busy.

The Brazilian defender made 10 clearances, the most he has made in a match for Madrid and one short of the highest number made by any player for Los Blancos this season, after Nacho made 11 against Liverpool in the Champions League.

A makeshift back four of captain Marcelo, Victor Chust, Militao and Alvaro Odriozola faced a barrage of crosses from a Getafe side who belied their recent poor form, having previously won just one in 12 LaLiga matches (D4 L7) leading up to the game.

Zidane said after the match: "We have given our maximum. It's a draw but we continue fighting. It will not end here.

"There are many games, but the team that is going to win will need a little of everything, especially having its players.

"We have to do our best. Look at ourselves and not look at others. It's a very difficult, competitive league. Every three days we must always be good. We must go to the death and our mentality will not change."

Atletico's 5-0 win over Eibar earlier on Sunday means their lead is up to three points over Madrid and five over third-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand.

By coincidence, Atletico also drew 0-0 at Getafe last month.

Toni Kroos was absent for Madrid, with Zidane saying the midfielder had been "in discomfort".

"We have a lot of games and we can't do foolish things. We have to manage that," said the French head coach.

Madrid's unbeaten away run in LaLiga extended to 11 games (W6 D5), their longest run without losing since October 2017 (W13), and the starting XI Zidane fielded had the youngest average age of any of his teams in the league this season, at 26 years and 138 days.

Courtois was immaculate and later offered an intriguing reason for why he felt Madrid had perhaps not performed as many would have expected.

"Playing at Getafe is never easy, the pitch was dry and it was hard to move the ball around," Courtois said, in an interview released on Twitter by the club.

"We tried, we had a couple of good chances, as did they, and that's where I had good saves."

He pointed to the moment Getafe hit the post through a header from Jaime Mata midway through the first half, saying: "I caught it with my finger."

That fingertip touch had not been obvious to the naked eye. What was clear was that this result comes as a jolt, and a reminder that with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard, Kroos, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde unavailable, even the depth in Madrid's squad is not such to guarantee wins at tricky grounds such as Getafe's.

"In adversity you find the strength of a group," Courtois said. "It is what we are doing all season. You always have to stand up and that's what we do."

Thibault Courtois' clean sheet against Liverpool has the Real Madrid goalkeeper anticipating a Champions League semi-final reunion with Chelsea in search of silverware.

After Madrid held Liverpool to a goalless draw on Wednesday, the LaLiga champions progressed to the semi-finals for the first time since 2018 via a 3-1 aggregate success.

Madrid will now face Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea for a spot in the decider – Los Blancos have qualified for the semis of the European Cup/Champions League for the 30th time, at least 10 more than any other team.

"We came into today off the back of two really difficult games and maybe we just lacked the legs in attack but defensively we ran as if we had twelve men on the pitch," Courtois said.

"It was unbelievable. Everyone has to put that effort in when we're taken to the limit.

"We had to dig in and give it our all and that's what we did. That's crucial for the team's desire and in order to show we're a unit."

Courtois spent four seasons at Chelsea following a loan period with Atletico Madrid before joining Real Madrid in 2018.

He won two Premier League titles and other honours during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against the Premier League outfit (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever Champions League meeting.

"It's a special game against my former club. Since [Thomas] Tuchel came in, they've played 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and they're doing well, not conceding many goals," Belgium international Courtois said.

"It's going to be a tough match but I hope we can come through it. 

"We're hungry to win another Champions League and we have to try and go into it on a high. We might get some of our injured players back but everyone who played today showed we're a fantastic team."

While Madrid hope to add to their record 13 European titles, Courtois is seeking his first. 

Courtois has reached the Champions League final once before, but that 2014 showdown against Madrid ended in heartbreaking fashion as Atletico conceded an equaliser in stoppage time, then three more in a 4-1 extra-time defeat.

Now he and his team will be hoping to maintain the stingy defence they displayed midweek, even without the injured Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal. 

The Spanish giants have now progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the Champions League under Zinedine Zidane, with the club's only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's round of 16.

"Me and [Eder] Militao are part of the squad and we're here for a reason. We're well prepared for games like the one tonight," said Madrid defender Nacho.

"We've played three of the most demanding games together and we've produced high-level performances. So I'm pleased for myself, for Militao and especially for the whole team."

Real Madrid reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2018 after a 0-0 draw at Anfield secured a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Liverpool.

Zinedine Zidane's depleted side had seized control of the tie in the first meeting a week ago, Vinicius Junior the hero as he scored twice in the Spanish capital.

A makeshift defence stood up to the challenge in a scoreless return fixture, setting up a two-legged showdown with another English side in Chelsea for a place in this year's final in Istanbul.

The Ataturk Stadium holds fond memories for Liverpool – they were crowned European champions at the venue in 2005 – but there will be no return trip this year, leaving the focus for Jurgen Klopp's squad on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Reds will look back with regret on a disappointing display on the road, though they had a number of clear-cut chances to reduce the deficit on Merseyside.

Mohamed Salah was unable to convert a Sadio Mane square pass inside two minutes as the hosts started at a frenetic pace, his first-time attempt aimed straight at Thibaut Courtois.

The Egyptian forward – one of the more consistent performers in a season Klopp recently described as "bumpy" – wastefully fired over following superb work by Gini Wijnaldum, who also failed to keep an attempt of his own down as Madrid made it to the break unscathed.

Liverpool had a let-off when Karim Benzema's attempted pass to Vinicius deflected off Ozan Kabak and onto a post, much to the relief of Nathaniel Phillips after he had lost possession to present the counter-attacking opportunity.

Roberto Firmino tested Courtois again soon after the interval, while another on-target attempt from the Brazilian midway through the second half was blocked superbly by compatriot Eder Militao.

Vinicius was denied by Alisson in a one-on-one situation as Madrid's run of scoring in 23 straight knockout games came to an end, but more importantly they held firm at the back to seal their progression.

Zinedine Zidane is waiting to learn if Eden Hazard will be fit to return for Real Madrid against Liverpool on Tuesday.

Madrid face a huge week in their season with the home leg of their Champions League quarter-final before a Clasico with Barcelona in LaLiga.

But head coach Zidane is hoping his side will receive a boost ahead of the first meeting with the Reds.

Hazard returned from injury shortly before the international break but then missed the European tie against Atalanta with a damaged hip flexor and was unable to go away with Belgium.

Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez could not even guarantee the €100million winger would make Euro 2020, although he was "very positive".

Hazard might be back in action as soon as Tuesday, with Madrid also looking to again bring Federico Valverde into the fold.

"Hopefully we can get Valverde and Hazard back," Zidane said on Saturday. "We will see tomorrow and the day after.

"Today it was not possible but I hope that on Tuesday they can be with us."

Hazard scored six goals against Liverpool in 16 games while with Chelsea.

But he has made just 36 appearances and 29 starts for Madrid since his signing in June 2019, scoring only four times and providing five assists from 38 chances created.

Hazard certainly was not missed as Los Blancos swept aside Eibar 2-0 at a stormy Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.

Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema scored in either half, while the Spain forward also hit the crossbar, opposing goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic made six saves and three of Madrid's four offsides saw goals disallowed.

"The first half, in general, was complete, with good feelings," Zidane said. "It's what I told the players.

"Then, with the storm, there were 20 difficult minutes to start the second.

"We have to recover well because we have a week with important games in the Champions League and the league. They will be entertaining.

"We must continue like this. There was a difficult moment in the season and now we have to take advantage of the current one, which is good."

Ahead of league leaders Atletico Madrid and fellow challengers Barca playing this weekend, Madrid moved up to second, three points off the summit.

That promising position means Zidane will prioritise neither domestic action nor their European exploits.

"We do not look at that," he said. "We are in the day-to-day. We are thinking about today's game, which we did very well.

"We are not going to think about one competition or the other; we are alive in both. Now you have to enjoy the moment. We have done nothing - we have to continue."

Thibaut Courtois, required to make four saves against Eibar but only really tested by an awkward Lucas Vazquez backpass, added: "We've fought all season to get to April, where everything is played for.

"Winning today put pressure on Atletico and Barcelona.

"In April, everything is played for and everything is decided; hopefully we will keep winning."

Thibaut Courtois says Belgium's players are "hungry" to get their hands on a first-ever World Cup in Qatar next year.

Belgium, ranked number one in the world, finished third at the 2018 tournament, beating England in a play-off after they had lost to eventual winners France at the semi-final stage.

Roberto Martinez's side started their qualification campaign for next year's competition with a 3-1 win over Wales, though they were held to a 1-1 draw by the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Courtois is no stranger to silverware, having won both the Premier League and LaLiga twice, as well as the Europa League back in 2012.

The Real Madrid goalkeeper desperately wants to add the World Cup to that haul - and he is in no doubt his team-mates share his desire.

"I'm very hungry," he told a media conference ahead of Belgium taking on Belarus on Tuesday. "The prizes you are yet to win are the ones you want to win the most.

"The Euros, a World Cup and the Champions League are the ones I haven't won yet. But I think all the guys in the squad are very hungry to play for these prizes.

"Every player is hungry to win those titles, you see that in every team. I have experienced that at Real, the adrenaline that you feel when you win something is like a drug you want to keep on taking.

"In a season, you don't get around to actually winning a trophy that often, so in every final and ahead of every tournament, that hunger is really present."

After a difficult start to his Madrid career upon joining from Chelsea in 2018, Courtois has been one of Los Blancos' most consistent performers over the past two seasons.

He has kept 11 clean sheets in LaLiga this term – a tally bettered only by Jan Oblak and Yassine Bounou – while only those two and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have a better save percentage than Courtois' 72.3 per cent of goalkeepers who have played more than three games.

Courtois has been regularly praised by boss Zinedine Zidane for his game-saving heroics, and the 28-year-old believes a number of tweaks to his game have helped him to become a more "complete goalkeeper".

"I think I've grown in possession, playing with my feet," he said. "At Madrid, with Zidane, we need to play and pass under pressure. I have improved a lot in that.

"Of course, I'm also more experienced now. I read situations a bit better and I've gotten stronger mentally as well.

"It's a combination of all those things. I'm becoming more complete as a goalkeeper, but that is something you need to keep working on.

"It's an evolution, you are always evolving in football."

Thibaut Courtois does not believe he is given enough recognition for his performances at Real Madrid in comparison to his time at Atletico Madrid.

After a difficult start to his Madrid career upon joining from Chelsea in 2018, Courtois has been one of Los Blancos' most consistent performers over the past two seasons.

He has kept 11 clean sheets in LaLiga this term – only Atletico's Jan Oblak has more with 12 – while no keeper has more shutouts (29) in the competition since the start of 2019-20, level with Oblak.

Courtois has been regularly praised by boss Zinedine Zidane for his game-saving heroics, but the 28-year-old does not believe his achievements are fully appreciated by everyone, particularly in his homeland.

The Belgium international, who spent three seasons with Atletico before joining Chelsea and then Madrid, told HLN: "I had three fantastic years at Atletico. I received praise from all over Belgium. I became Sportsman of the Year and I thought it was good.

"Today I have the feeling that everything I do has become normal. My performance in that game against Real Valladolid, I think, seemed like it didn't exist.

"It seems that continuing to play at a high level at the biggest club in the world is no longer worth the effort."

Courtois initially struggled to hold down a place in Madrid's starting line-up amid repeated criticism in his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But he helped Los Blancos to the LaLiga title last season and produced a number of fine saves in his side's penalty shoot-out win against Atletico in the Supercopa de Espana final.

However, Courtois was pipped to HNL's prestigious 'Best Belgian Player Abroad' award in 2019-20 by Inter striker Romelu Lukaku – a decision he admits was difficult to accept.

"When you see where I've come from at Real Madrid... I survived a tsunami there," said Courtois, who is expected to start for Madrid against former side Atleti on Sunday.

"In 2020 I won the Supercopa with a decisive save in the shoot-out. And then I read from analysts: 'Courtois deserves the Belgian of the Year trophy less than Lukaku, because he was always with the national team while Courtois withdrew a few times'.

"I can understand that Lukaku was given the award for Best Belgian Abroad, but I also deserved it. I was also not nominated for Athlete of the Year. 

"It's ridiculous. In fact, I feel more appreciation in Spain, and also outside of Spain, than in Belgium."

Thibaut Courtois insists Real Madrid will fight until the end in this season's LaLiga title race but acknowledges Atletico Madrid's outstanding form will make it tough.

The defending champions lost 2-1 at home to Levante on Saturday, meaning they remain seven points behind the league leaders, who now have two games in hand.

Madrid led through Marco Asensio after 13 minutes but were already down to 10 men by that stage, Eder Militao dismissed following a two-minute VAR delay.

Timed at eight minutes and 12 seconds, it was the quickest red card received by a Madrid outfield player in LaLiga since at least the 2003-04 season.

Los Blancos could not withstand the Levante pressure and were pegged back before half-time by Jose Luis Morales.

Courtois saved a penalty – his second such stop for the club – after the break, but Roger Marti, the man denied from 12 yards, struck the winner late on.

The setback represented a big blow to Madrid, who had been enjoying their best home run of a tricky season with four straight wins.

Meanwhile, Atletico, who visit Cadiz on Sunday, have won seven in a row in LaLiga.

"We have to fight. LaLiga lasts until May," Courtois said. "We have to react and hope Atletico lose, but they keep winning.

"Today we cannot consider it a bad game or a good game – we had to play with one less."

Courtois was not convinced by the red card for Militao, one of just two first-half Madrid fouls.

The defender was initially shown a yellow card as he tangled with Sergio Leon, but the referee headed to the pitchside monitor and considered the retreating Raphael Varane to have been taken out of the game by the forward's touch.

"I don't think he means to knock down the player," Courtois said. "And Varane is close. Although [Leon] has a chance, I don't think it's a red."

Courtois added Madrid "missed something" in attack, failing to aim a single shot on target in the second half while their goalkeeper made six saves across the 90 minutes – his most in a single game for the club.

"I want to highlight our game, which was difficult after we were left with 10," Bettoni said. "We showed character and a lot of pride.

"The fans have to continue believing in their team. We will fight to the end for the remaining titles.

"The effort of the players has been great and that is what matters to us, although obviously we are disappointed by this defeat."

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