The former France star paid tribute to both 2014 Ballon d’Or contenders and warned Real Madrid not to take Schalke lightly in the Champions League
Zinedine Zidane has described Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as “an alien” and claims he is unique in world football.
Ronaldo claimed the 2014 Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer in January following his exceptional scoring standards throughout the calendar year, though a dip in form and a red card against Cordoba have marred the last few weeks for the Portugal star.
However, while he acknowledges that Neuer has transformed the way modern goalkeepers operate, Zidane is in no doubt that Ronaldo fully deserved the prize.
“Neuer is a fantastic player, who lifted the keeper’s game to a new level,” he told Welt am Sonntag. “He is a phenomenon between the posts.
“But at the same time, Ronaldo is from a different planet. He is like an alien. What he does is unique.”
Real Madrid take on Schalke in the Champions League last-16 first leg on February 18 and Zidane has warned the Liga leaders not to take Roberto Di Matteo’s side lightly.
“I would love to say Schalke have no chance and Real are already safely in the quarter-finals,” said the Castilla coach. “But, especially in the knockout stage, anything can happen.
“In two matches there is always a chance the underdog will rise. You have to be careful, especially against a German team.”
Zidane also paid tribute to Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola for the improvements he has made to the German champions’ style, and admits a Champions League final between Madrid and Bayern would be the “logical” expectation.
“He has that special something,” he said of Guardiola. “With him, Bayern reached the absolute top class. He gave them a boost and brought his own touch to Bayern’s game. That makes the difference.
“[Bayern vs Real] would be the logical final, but logic has no place in football. From a certain level onwards there are no small clubs anymore, and that goes for the Champions League, too. No victory is easy there, those days are long one.”