The time is almost at hand: tomorrow we take on Man City at home. The winner of this match heads on to the final to face Atleti, who knocked out Bayern today thanks to that away goal.
The team had their final session under the watchful eye of the press. Borja Mayoral joined the session. Benzema and Casemiro, who will not be available for the match, trained indoors. (Video)
“We’re going to go out to play football, pressing high up with a high intensity and the concentration that is needed in a Champions League semi-final”, he added.
Zidane gave his thoughts on the decisive match the day before the Manchester City game (8:45pm CEST). The coach spoke about what will be the key to the game: “A semi-final is very difficult. We can’t think that because we are at home, with our fans, that it will be easy. We will work hard from the first to the 90th minute to make it to the final. As long as we’re calm and patient we can get something tomorrow”.
“It is going to be a difficult game, more so than the first leg. Everything will be decided tomorrow. We are aware of that and we will prepare for the game as we always do, showing respect to the opponent, they’ve got very good players, especially in attack. We are going to concentrate on our game. It’s not going to be the same as the second-leg against Wolfsburg. We can’t think that we are going to score 2 or 3 goals in 15 minutes. We know that it will be difficult and the important thing is to prepare and play a well worked game”.
“I’m not going to change tomorrow. The idea is always the same and more so playing at home. Hopefully we can play 90 minutes like the second half in England. We have to score a goal, which is the most important thing in football. We’re going to go out to play football, pressing high up with a high intensity and the concentration that is needed in a Champions League semi-final. They are also playing for a place in the final and they will make it difficult”.
Cristiano, Benzema and Casemiro
“Cristiano is in good shape, he is at 100%, he has trained and he is going to play. Casemiro and Karim Benzema are different cases, we don’t want to risk Benzema at the moment and Casemiro has a slight problem also, but we have a big squad that can help us cover all options.
“Cristiano is not a risk, he is well, he is training and he is 100%. We’ll see in the game tomorrow but today he is 100%. His recovery isn’t a question of two days, it’s been a week. He’s recovered bit by bit. He is a player who is like that, he recovers quickly and he looks after himself a lot. We need Cristiano at 100% and the good thing is that he is always on the field. He’s a different player and his statistic show that. I would have like to have also had Casemiro and Karim, but others will play and we will do well”.
“We have got a good relationship with the players. It’s important for me that a player says the same about his coach. I like it when my message is taken on by the players. If this relationship stays like this, I’ll be happy”.
Chances of getting to Milan
“We’ve not won anything yet. We’re in good form and our plan if to do as much as possible tomorrow: play the game we need to play to make it to the final. If we don’t go through it will have been a failure, obviously, because we want to go through”.
These players deserve to achieve something important.”
“Obviously when you are the Real Madrid coach you think you can go far in the Champions League. I’m very happy, not because of what could happen, but because of what is happening day to day and the work we are doing. It’s what makes me happy as the coach. We really want everything to turn out well and we want to achieve something important because these players deserve it”.
Substitute for Casemiro
“”We are going to try and replace Casemiro, he has his own type of game but we have other players who can play the same role, we are going to try and play the most competitive team possible, whoever plays will do the work of Casemiro”.
“I hold Agüero in high esteem as a player. He is a fundamental player for them and he’s very good. We are going to be aware of him, and the other players. There’s not going to be anything special to defend against him. The most important thing is what we are going to do out on the field. I think that Sterling played well in the first-leg. I don’t want to give my opinion on one player or another. They are a very strong team who are going to play their game and try to make it to the final”.
“When we don’t have the ball, we must defend as a team. It’s a team effort, not only Kroos. We know the importance of defending together. We’ve been doing it well recently. The best thing is to have the ball, it’s what we like and we’re going to try to have it to harm the opponents”.
The players motivation
“They know what we are playing for tomorrow. I’m going to do the same as always, prepare like always. They know the opposition, where they can hurt us. It’s not about motivation, they know what they are playing for. The motivation will be right from the start”.
Keylor Navas: “We are going to give everything for this badge”
by Javier Garcia | PhotographerL Helios De La Rubia
“Playing in a Champions League semi-final is a privilege and we are going to approach it with the responsibility that it deserves”, said the goalkeeper.
Keylor Navas spoke alongside Zidane in the Press room at the Real Madrid City. The goalkeeper seemed confident of beating Manchester City: “I am privileged to play for Real Madrid. One as a footballer should value these opportunities. Playing in a semi-final is an important moment and I take it with the responsibility that it deserves. Inside I’ve not stop being a child and dreaming. I hope this is the start of many more games like this. Tomorrow we are going to give everything for the badge and for the shirt that we defend”.
“It is a difficult game. They have got a great team with player who can unbalance you. We are all well prepared. There are 25 of us working hard since the start. Whoever starts will go out and give their all because if we are part of Real Madrid, we are capable of playing this type of game. We would like to have everyone at 100% but we are going to wait for the coach’s decision”.
Support from the fans
“When you have the best fans in the world you know that they are going to fill the stadium and get behind us. They are going to give everything from the stands, like us on the field. The example is the last game in the Champions League, they showed that they were 100% behind us. We will try to repay their faith in us on the pitch with a performance that will make them leave the stadium happy”.
“We have got the best fans in the world and they will fill the stadium and get behind us.”
“It’s a very important game for the club. I’m playing for Real Madrid and I had not had the opportunity to play in this competition before. Playing in a Champions League semi-final is a privilege and I approach it with the responsibility that it deserves. It’s not the time to try anything new, it’s time to go out with the same desire as always”.
How he prepared for the game
“I try to be as professional as possible in each game. I must continue along the same line and treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. When things are going well, there’s no need to change anything. We are going to try to improve and continue on the same path. When we go out on to the pitch, we want to give everything for the shirt that we represent. We have to be as one. We are going to go out confident, as a team and humble”.
“We have to go out with a winning mentality, as always. We have to be aware that the game will not be easy. There will be moments when we will attack and others when we will defend. The game is 90 minutes, we have to know how to work and make decisions calmly and with a cold head. I respect all opponents. We go in to this game with the same concentration and intensity. The more united we are, the stronger we will be”.
“It’s a big game for the club and I know just how lucky we are”, declared Clichy.
Manuel Pellegrini and Gael Clichy spoke to the press assembled inside the Santiago Bernabéu’s media room on the eve of the Champions League semi-final second-leg clash (Wednesday, 8:45pm CEST). The Manchester City coach explained that: “We’re going to try and play as we do every week. The best way for us to go about reaching the final is to do things just we do every day. In the first leg, we tried to press high up and regain possession, but we didn’t have our best night. We’ll be trying to get possession from the off and go out and attack”.
“Our motivation has to be to reach the final, which we’ve never done before. We’re also playing against Real Madrid in a beautiful stadium. We trust in our team and we hope to be proved right tomorrow”.
Champions League experience away from home
“This team have performed very well away from home in all of the seasons they’ve been in the Champions League, and particularly so this time round, against PSG in the quarter-finals. We’re going to continue to play in the same way for the rest of the season. There’ll be a lot of pressure at the Bernabéu, but we’ve got the personality and the football to win”.
Returning to the Bernabéu
“It’s always nice to come back here, it’s a stadium which brings back very good memories for me. The year I had here was a very important one for me. I’ve already been back here, with Málaga, and fortunately I’ve got the backing of all of the Real Madrid fans”.
“He’s a different player, he scores a lot of goals, you only have to look at all of the goals he has scored here. But Real Madrid are not just all about Cristiano Ronaldo, they have got other options too. We’ll have to attack and defend as a team”.
Pellegrini: “We’ll be trying to get posession from the off and go out and attack.”
“He’s a top professional and he knows his body. They’ve decided that he’s fit to play and I’m sure that he’s 100% fit”.
“It’s difficult to evaluate him based on the short time he has been here. He’s starting out and he’s got everything to go on and become a top coach. He took over at Real Madrid at a difficult time and he’s got them fighting for La Liga and the Champions League”.
Situation in the Premier League
“We weren’t expecting to get beaten at Southampton, despite sending out a different team. But that doesn’t in any way change what we’ve got to do after the semi-final, which is to win the remaining two games to finish in third place”.
Training in Manchester and expectation levels
“We knew that the playing surface at the Bernabéu was always going to be in impeccable condition because it is a top stadium and we just preferred to train privately. The history of the two clubs is very different. For me, it would be a failure if we don’t get to the final and if we don’t play as I think we should. I hope that our team reach the final and that feeling of responsibility is one shared by both Real Madrid and City”.
Clichy: “It’s a special game”
“It’s a big game for the club and I know just how lucky we are. It’s not every season that you get to play in a Champions League semi-final. It’s special for the players and the club. We’re going to try to win and will be giving our all. It’ll be a tough game, but these are the sort of games you want to be involved in and we’re ready for it”.
“Karim is an important player for Real Madrid. He scores a lot of goals and he’s the link between Cristiano Ronaldo and the middle third. He’s a very important player and if he’s not available, that’s a plus for us, but a team as big as Madrid can will be able to replace him. It’s a shame for him to be missing the game, but we’ll be approaching it in just the same way, regardless of whether he plays or not”.
The following players were called up for the match vs. Manchester City:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Carvajal, Arbeloa and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Bale, Kovacic, Modric and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vázquez, Jesé and Mayoral.
I’m, of course, rooting for an all Madrid final (with the same result as last time!) Let’s get out there and rock it Los Blancos!