20 players made the trip to Sweden.
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla and Rubén Yáñez.
Defenders: Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Carvajal and Arbeloa.
Midfielders: Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Kovacic, Isco, Cheryshev and M. Llorente.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Lucas Vázquez, Jesé and B. Mayoral.
Also on the flight was our Under-19 team who have their own match against the Malmö Under 19s. The team is headquartered at the Hotel Radisson Blu. They trained at Malmö’s stadium today and the fans went predictably nuts as they headed out of the hotel.
“It’s a Champions League match and we know what the tournament means to this club”, said the coach.
Rafa Benítez faced the media at the Swedbank Stadion, looking ahead to Real Madrid’s match against Malmö and analysing the Whites’ competitive targets: “I came up through the ranks at Real Madrid and I know that in every game it’s a must that we play well, win and are successful in every competition. I’m approaching this game as the most important one, because it’s the next one. It’s a Champions League match and we know what the tournament means to this club. The requirement at this club is the same day in, day out: win every game”.
“Cristiano Ronaldo looks to me just as the team does: in pretty good shape and creating chances. I’ve said that he’ll score goals, and that’s what he’ll do if the team continue to create chances, because he guarantees goals. It’s normal to think about stopping Cristiano when you play against Real Madrid. He’s the focal point of the attack”.
“If you look at my record, I’d say that it does get results. A squad like Real Madrid’s enables you to rotate. What’s important is to train well, work well with those who don’t play so much so that when they do you don’t notice the difference”.
“Our only target is this game; if they had been ready they would be here, but they weren’t at 100%. Jesé is, because he wasn’t injured”.
“It’s normal for an attacking team to experience a certain degree of imbalance in defence. What’s more, we have two attacking full-backs. We have to place an emphasis on ways of being vigilant and on our guard so that the opposition creates fewer and fewer openings against us”.
Lack of goals?
“The key the other day was our effectiveness with the final pass, which is the most difficult thing. Anxiety in the final minutes, too. We lacked the composure to carve out better chances. What we have to do is instil confidence in the players up front. I’ve set [Karim] Benzema a target and with Cristiano there’s no need, because he’s always there and we all know his quality. We have to improve the tallies of the players coming from deeper so as not to have to rely so much on Cristiano and Benzema”.
“Cristiano guarantees goals.”
“It’s easier to improve the backline than the forward line. Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do; it’s harder to coach it. Showing that level of precision depends a lot on the player. In defence, movements and aspects of play that become second nature can be worked on more effectively”.
“The team are creating quite a lot of scoring chances and have only conceded one. But I’m very happy with what we’re creating and also with the defensive side of things. We have to avoid the odd counter-attack and look to strike a balance between both areas of our play”.
“4-4-2 is a good system if you make the most of the qualities of the players. At Napoli I didn’t use it and here I’ve varied the system because that’s what the team and our opponents have required”.
The role of the forwards
“Above all, the forwards have to create scoring chances and find the target. Beyond that, their contribution to defensive work is just as important as that of the defenders in attack. We have to improve in the details, because it’s a question of time before the team score a lot of goals”.
“Last year Toni played a lot of games because [Luka] Modric got injured. It’s a good thing on the one hand, but on the other it leads to fatigue. However, all the data and tests that we have on him are positive. His position is similar to last year’s. When he plays well we take advantage of that and when he doesn’t we have to help him”.
“There isn’t a Benítez method. This is the beginning and there’s a long road ahead. We have to try balance what we have up front with solidity in defence, without detracting from that attacking potential. We’re on the right track towards managing that. Sometimes there are games in which we allow the opposition more counter-attacks than we’d like. You have to analyse that and know what you have to do to solve it. That takes time, but we’re on the right track”.
“Of course they have a good tactical understanding. What I ask Marcelo to do is make the most of his attacking qualities and to be on his guard and adjust his position at the back. Casemiro and Danilo absorb instructions like sponges. They aren’t anarchic”.
“The team are looking forward to the match, and are out to play well and come away with the three points”, he added.
Nacho spoke to the media alongside Rafa Benítez ahead of Real Madrid’s first away assignment of this season’s Champions League. The central defender offered his thoughts on Wednesday’s clash with Malmö: “The team are really looking forward to the match, and are out to play well and come away with the three points. We expect to come up against a very tough side; we know that they’re strong at home. We’ll try to play our game and control the match, without losing sight of the threat they pose up front and how tough they are”.
“All I’m focused on is putting in a good game, the team getting the win and keeping a clean sheet at the back. I try to perform as well as I can when I play, I work as hard as possible in training and during the playing time that I get. It maybe isn’t the easiest role, but I look to get the most out of it”.
Players to watch
“From Malmö I know [Markus] Rosenberg, who played for Racing Santander and likes to score a lot of goals. Also [Jo Inge] Berget, who is really quick. We know that they’re a good side and that they dominate their games at home. I don’t follow the Swedish league, but we know that they’re a difficult team and that they aren’t going to make life easy for us”.
“The coach knows that he can call on me in any position that he needs. I’m ready for whatever he asks of me”.
Lots of pictures were posted on social media. Nacho put up a shot of his boots with baby Alejandra’s name on them.
A bunch of travel shots:
And there was a special guest at training: Marta!
Looking forward to tomorrow’s match. Hala Madrid!