Kovacic: Real Madrid “born to play in the Champions League.”

AP Photo / Christopher Ena
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Mateo Kovacic and Real Madrid may be out of the running in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, but their status as a potential UEFA Champions League history maker is very much alive.

[ MORE: UCL recap | Klopp reacts ]

Real moved to within three rounds of a third-straight UEFA Champions League title, which has only been done by three clubs and not since 1976, by controlling Neymar-less Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

One of those three clubs, by the way, is Real. They won the first five European Cups, although the tournament was far less challenging in 1960.

“They had the ball more than us but we were very aggressive. It’s difficult to beat us when we play like that. It’s amazing how it’s changed when we play in the Champions League.

“This club is born to play in the Champions League.”

This “threepeat,” however, would be next level, with the world as competitive as ever. Real has a big advantage, however, in that it will it merely needs to avoid a horrendous league finish to qualify for another UCL and can focus on the tournament proper.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane was pleased to come through the encounter in Paris.

“It was a tough match,” he said. “I’m pleased. I must congratulate the players as they’re the ones on the pitch. Bravo to them. This is a tough ground to come to, the atmosphere is fantastic. We deserved to get through the tie.”