Are you ready for the Clasico? I’m never ready for the Clasico but ready or not, here it comes!
The good news is that the full 23 man squad was available today. Whether certain folks will play tomorrow (Benz, Keylor) is still up in the air. Sergio is a definite though. (Video)
Benítez: “The team come into the Clásico in good shape; they’re excited and looking forward to it”
by Javier Garcia | Photographer: Helios De La Rubia
“The players are particularly up for it and that has been clear to see during the week”, added the coach.
On the eve of the first Clásico of the season, Rafa Benítez spoke to the media and offered his impressions ahead of Saturday’s match against Barcelona (6:15pm CET): “It’s my first Clásico with the first team. The team come into it in good shape; they’re excited and looking forward to it. We’re aware of the importance of any game against Barcelona and of getting all three points. The same is on the line for me as for Real Madrid as a whole: three very important points to be up there challenging for the title right to the end”.
“[Karim] Benzema is in the squad, he trained well and is part of the group. We still have to decide whether he plays or not, but he’s part of the group. We’ll assess how he feels in every respect and make a decision with him over whether or not he plays”.
Attacks in Paris
“The recent world events are deeply saddening and we have to express our solidarity with the victims, because it’s very serious and very worrying. We will be protected by the security measures placed in operation for the match and I’m sure that everything will be fine and that we’ll be able to enjoy the game”.
The defeat to Sevilla
“The match against Sevilla was our first defeat and we came into it with the problems that we had, with players out. In the first half we played well and in the second half not so well. They’re things that we have to analyse, and we know that the first-half performance is the way forward”.
“It’s the second time that we’ve had everyone available. It brings me optimism for the future. This is a winning team with potential for growth. If we have everyone available, competition for places is higher and that’s beneficial for the group. Everyone who is in the squad is important and could play. The strength that we’ve shown in the weeks that we’ve had players out brings me confidence and optimism.”
Danilo and Dani Carvajal
“They’re two terrific players who are able to attack and defend. It depends a lot on the characteristics of the opponents. They’re excellent professionals and are able to attack and defend to the standard required at Real Madrid”.
How to beat Barcelona
“The way you take on Barcelona changes a lot depending on whether you’re the coach of Extremadura, Liverpool or Real Madrid. Real Madrid have certain characteristics, which are that the team have to attack, score goals and create danger in and around the opposition goalmouth. That’s what we’re going to do”.
“Real Madrid have to go out there to attack and score goals.”
“Real Madrid have a way of playing, which is attacking and trying to score goals, and we do that regardless of the opposition. We don’t focus so much on our opponents. When we’re playing at our stadium with our home fans behind us, I always think that Real Madrid are favourites, but we’re up against a fantastic side”.
“I have respect for your profession, but those reports are false. There has not been any meeting. I have been managing football teams for 25 or 30 years; I haven’t done badly and I’m going to carry on doing it the same way”.
Intensity in the squad
“They’re a professional group who work really hard. The players relish games of this type and they look particularly up for it; that has been clear to see during the week. I feel optimistic and positive in that sense”.
“The fixture list pits everyone against each other. We’ve played teams like Atlético Madrid and Athletic Club, who are difficult sides, and we’re where we are. Barcelona have been without [Lionel] Messi and we have had a lot of players out injured. I’m optimistic; I don’t like being second, I prefer to be first and tomorrow we have an opportunity to be first”.
“The most offensive team is the one that shoots most and scores the most goals. We’re going to try to keep on doing what we’re doing, and if possible be more clinical. The attackers have freedom to interchange up front. We all know the attacking set-up we have. Cristiano [Ronaldo] is fundamental, he has goal-scoring ability, he guarantees goals and he’s going to show that. He has my complete confidence”.
“The first thing I did when he arrived from Colombia was to greet him and have a chat with him. I’m happy that he has come back fit and I want him to be in the best of shape to score goals and help us win a lot of games. He’s in the squad and is available to feature tomorrow. If we feel that he can bring what we need to win the game, we’ll use him”.
Sergio Ramos and Keylor Navas
“Sergio will play and will be absolutely fine. We appreciate the effort that he’s making for us. He’s the captain, he has to be there and he will be there. Keylor is getting over his fitness issues, he’s in good shape and in principle I’m optimistic”.
Getting all my RM flags out and prepping for tomorrow!