Apologies for the lack of updates lately. Apartment hunting is eating my life.
Yesterday, things got all wet n’ wild during the training session. Poor Keylor! Poor all of them.
Today the team headed off for Wolfsburg in preparation for their Champions League match.
The team headquarters for their German visit is the Innside Wolfsburg hotel.
Training in Wolfsburg
Zidane: “The players are focused and that’s what I’m interested in”
by Javier Garcia (Wolfsburg) | Photographer: Antonio Villalba
“The Wolfsburg game will be another tough one, but we’re in good shape to be playing a Champions League game”, declared the coach.
Zinedine Zidane spoke to the press to preview Wednesday’s clash against Wolfsburg (8:45pm CEST). The Real Madrid coach gave his thoughts ahead of the game: “We’re only thinking about tomorrow’s match and about the Champions League game. We’re on good form because we’ve just won a game. We’re in good shape, but not just on account of Saturday’s game, before that one we were playing well too. Now we’ve got another game, it’s a difficult one and we’re going to prepare well for it. We’re in good shape to be playing a Champions League game”.
“There are no favourites in the Champions League. Each and every game is important. Each game is like a cup final. In football if you ease off you end up paying for it. We’re enjoying a good run and you always have to be focused on what we’ve got to do, and the players are. That’s what I’m most interested in”.
“I came away happy to have won there and with the manner in which we did it. It’s not easy to win there and we know that. It was important for our morale as we continue fighting. Prior to that game I’d said that we were on good form. We won what was a difficult game and now we have to keep going because all of the games are going to be tough”.
James and Isco
Such are the problems that a coach faces. I’d like them all to be able to play and to go with both Isco and James. They are players who have great quality and when they don’t play it’s tough. I was a player myself and I know that they all want to be playing. I have to chose, there are 22 of them and I have to pick a starting XI and then the rest who can come on from off the bench. Those two will play important roles during the rest of the season, despite them not playing on Saturday. I’m very interested to see how James and Isco perform because I know what they can do”.
“Tomorrow we face a difficult game. This is a team that have made it to the quarter-finals. They’ve struggled in their league, but that counts for nothing. This is a Champions League game and that means a lot to any player. They’ve deserved to get this far and tomorrow we’re going to be up against it. We’re going to go out there as we always do, play our game with our brand of football and we’re going to prepare well for it”.
“We come into it on good form and must continue in this vein.”
“They’ve got many players who are capable of causing us problems. Physically they’re strong and they know how to play football, plus they’ve got pace up top. There’s no doubt that they’ll make it tough for us, but what I’m interested in is what we’re going to do, we’re Real Madrid and we want to play our game too”.
The BBC’s defensive contribution
“The three of them are working hard and are doing well. Of course they could be asked to defend more, but all three of them are doing their jobs defensively. We all know that their main role is to attack, we also know that to win a tough game they also have to do a job defensively. I’m certain that if we work together we’ll win. You’ll win no trophies without working together”.
“He’s getting close to being back to his best. He’s had injuries and it’s not easy, but I think that he’s doing fine. As for the sending-off on Saturday, in games like that you’re always giving your all because that’s what the game demands of you. He’s fine and he’s getting back to his best. I’m happy with him, he’s the captain and he’ll always be important for the team”.
“I remember his performance in Germany two years ago perfectly. I saw a player with personality. I watched the game, as did Ancelotti, who was the coach at the time. He’s always wanting to learn, he’s working excellently, he’s always asking questions, he wants to improve and from a coach’s perspective, that is great”.
The Importance of Marcelo and Carvajal
“Wing-backs are important in football, not just at Real Madrid. When the game is tight, they’re the one who can make the difference. We’re lucky enough to have great players in these positions and I’m pleased with the job that they’re doing. Their main responsibility is to defend, but we’re lucky to have players who can offer you something going forward. Danilo could well start tomorrow, but so too could Carvajal”.
Marcelo: “We’re approaching the game as if it were a cup final”
by Javier Garcia (Wolfsburg) | Photographer: Antonio Villalba
“The team is in good shape, we’re very focused and one of the keys will be to not concede”, insisted the defender.
Marcelo took his place alongside Zinedine Zidane in the media room at the Wolfsburg Arena, where the Brazilian spoke of how the team are approaching the game against the German side: “They’re going to put us under a lot of pressure, as will their fans. This one isn’t a lesser game, it’s one that we’re approaching as if it was a cup final. We’re expecting a tough game in which they’ll put us under a lot of pressure. We’re clear on what we’ve got to do. We’re going to give our all to ensure we put in a good performance”.
“It’s important not to concede. The team is in good shape, we’re very focused on what we’ve got to do and what our coach is asking of us. If we manage not to concede tomorrow it will be a big step in the right direction”.
Camp Nou celebrations
“Everyone has their own opinion and that must be respected. I celebrate every victory as if it were a title win. Playing football and winning games is very difficult and I celebrate every win”.
Call-ups with Brazil
“I’m not bothered by it. I’ve been receiving call-ups to the national team since the age of 15 and I always go with the same feeling of pride. When you don’t get called up it bothers you, that’s obvious. Nobody can question how keen I am to join up with the national team. I give my absolute all for my club and country. I’m not the one who decides on the squad lists.This issue has gone too far”.
“I’m not going to say what the coach and I talk about. Sometimes I’ve player further forwards, but I’m a defender and I’ll continue to be a defender. I don’t know whether the coach wants me to play in another position, but I’ll always be a defender, I’m a left-wing back”.
Morale levels after the Clásico
“The fact that we’re here competing in the Champions League means that we’re in with a chance of winning it. Saturday’s game is now gone and right after it we started thinking about tomorrow’s match. Our attentions are now focused on the Champions League”.
Dante and Luiz Gustavo
“I get on very well with Dante, as I do with Luiz Gustavo, they are like two brothers to me and I met them through football. We’ve spoken about the game, but we haven’t made any wagers”.
The following players were called up for the match:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Casilla and Rubén Yáñez.
Defenders: Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Carvajal, Arbeloa and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Bale, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Lucas Vázquez and Jesé.
“In this round there are no easy teams. We know that it will be a difficult game there”, he said in an interview for the media at UEFA.
Casemiro gave an interview to the official UEFA media where he went over the current situation at the club and Real Madrid’s upcoming Champions League quarter-final match against Wolfsburg. “In this round there are no easy teams. We know that it will be a difficult game there. Wolfsburg defend well, they’ve got fast players in attack and we must respect them”.
How special is the Champions League for you?
It was always a dream to play in this competition and today I’m doing it with Real Madrid. So every time that I play in it I enjoy it as much as possible because I’m fulfilling a dream.
In the quarters you come up against Wolfsburg, how do you see the tie?
In this round there are no easy teams. We know that it will be a difficult game there. Wolfsburg defend well, they’ve got fast players in attack and we must respect them. But we will respect them playing our football, playing well and being Real Madrid.
You signed for Real Madrid at 20 years old, can you explain what it’s like to leave your family and friends and move to another country?
It wasn’t easy. Things in Brazil are more difficult and my youth wasn’t any different. I’m from a humble family and every time I go out on to a field I think about my family. First of all I came to play in the reserves and to make it in to the first team it depended on how things went for me. But I was always very confident. I was sure that I wanted to win and I wanted to play for my family, to help them. I always thought about giving my best.
What did you change when you arrived at Real Madrid? Did you have to improve your game, or your physical state and mentality?
Clearly it’s different to Brazil. But my mentality hasn’t changed much. I left Brazil with the mentality of wanting to win and play. This hasn’t changed today. I always keep my head up and I want to give my best… When I get up every day, I try to do my best.
In 2013/14 you were part of the team that won la Décima. What did it feel like to win it?
I didn’t have a key role in the team but I knew that my moment would come. The coach always said that we were all important, whether we played 90 or 30 minutes. And thanks to God that happened in Dortmund, I save those 25 or 30 minutes in my memory. When I went out on to the pitch everything went perfectly, just how I wanted. It was 25 minutes but I’m sure that with my work I helped the team in that moment. So I felt very important with la Décima, something that I always wanted.
You were on loan for a year in Porto, how important was that in your development?
I knew that I needed to play. It was a good decision and both Porto and Lopetegui behaved sensationally with me. I can only thank them because I learnt a lot, it was a year where I had to work a lot and put in a lot of effort and I received a lot of affection.
This season you have started six of the eight Champions League matches, has that given you confidence?
When I left Porto, I knew that I wanted to return to Real Madrid and play. Naturally there is a lot of competition for places but I felt that I was ready because I had learnt a lot. My teammates and the coaching team know that they can count on me. The club, the coach and the players are helping me a lot. It’s being a good experience for me. I have to keep working because there is a lot to play for the in the Champions League and I’m enjoying this competition as much as possible.
Last season you told us that you admired Zidane, what’s it like to work with him and what have you learnt?
Zidane was one of the best players that I have seen. Now as a coach, I try to learn as much as possible from him. He knows a lot because he was an exceptional player. He’s on the way to being a great coach. He’s doing a good job, he has many things that he transmits to the group and without a doubt he has the respect of all the players.
“We have to go out as strong as possible, without thinking of the second-leg”, added the fullback.
Dani Carvajal is one of the members of the squad who knows Wolfsburg the best. He played against them during his season with Bayer Leverkusen and he analysed the Champions League opponents for Realmadrid TV and Realmadrid.com: “I played there twice, I think I remember. Once in the league and once in the Cup. Both times we left with nothing, because they beat us in the two games. It’s a difficult ground to play at, they pressure a lot. They usually press you very high up. I’m sure it will be an uncomfortable match”.
“We’re going there thinking that it’s only a game. We’re going to win, not thinking about the second-leg at our stadium. We have to go out as strong as possible for the first half hour, try to get on top of the opposition and to get a goals. We know that scoring away from home is very important so we’ll go for it”.
The Wolfsburg fans
“They’ll fill the ground early, I’m sure of that, they’re going to be on top of the game. We have to raise above all this and try to put in a big performance and think that it’s just eleven against eleven and try to win”.
The importance of not conceding
“It’s very important to not concede goals. Against Roma we were able to keep clean sheets in both games. The only one where we conceded was against Shakhtar in a strange 20 minutes. This is the key to the Champions League: if you don’t concede, you have half a foot in the next stage”.
Is the eleventh going through Germany?
“I hope so, the road would be to eliminate Wolfsburg and go on to win the eleventh. At the moment we’re thinking about this tie, and it’s going to be difficult. It’s not just any team that makes it to the quarter-finals. We’ll try to do our best to be in the semi-finals, one step away from the final in Milan”.
And the mothership gifted us with this great video of the players’ view of winning El Clasico.