Ready For Atleti, Leg 1

1 May

Wow! Is the years-long hot pants war finally over?!

Feels like some sort of weird Freaky Friday switcharoo – Cris rocking the typical Sese 3/4 leg training pants and Sergio rolling the shorts even higher than usual.  Maybe they were just getting all giddy because it’s May Day. 

Well, tomorrow we face Atleti in the Champions League and if I’m exhausted from all the games, I can’t even imagine how the team feels.

Real Madrid Training

Everyone was on hand today with the exception of G-Money who did recovery work indoors. Pepe & Fabio trained separately from the group.

Atleti Training

Atleti got a little change of scenery and came across town to train at the Bernabeu.



Zidane: “It’s a Champions League semi-final and we need the support of the Bernabéu”

“Atlético improve every year and always make it difficult for us”, added the coach.

Zidane spoke to the media the day before the game against Atlético, corresponding to the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals (Tuesday, 8:45pm CEST). The coach analysed the tie: “We know the importance of this first game, we’re not thinking about the second leg. You have to try to do it right, from the first minute until the last. Our fans are always behind us and we ask them to be with us just like on the weekend against Valencia, which helped the team a lot”.

“The fans are a bonus, as always. We need them. It’s a semi-final, we know what we have to do, but the Bernabéu crowd is a bonus for the team. For Atlético and for us it is a different tie than the previous ones. It’s a semi-final with two games. We’ll have extra motivation because it’s a semi-final. What’s gone before is in the past. The past serves for nothing. It’s different now and we’ll all do our best to get to the final”.

Talks with the squad
“It’s important to talk to the group and also to individual players to tell them what you need from them”.

Sending offs
“We don’t train for it, but we have to be ready because it could happen. It went in our favour against Bayern and against Barcelona. Casemiro is important in the middle, he is physically strong and I’ll not tell him to change his game. What he does is perfect and he may receive a card early on, just like the other day. He knows that if he can avoid it, he’ll try”.

“We’re not favourites, it’s a semi-final and it’s 50-50, as always. We’ll try to do our best to win the game. We have to concentrate only on tomorrow’s match, not on the second-leg”.

Keylor Navas
“He feels good, he’s also in high spirits. People talk a lot, but he’s focused on what he has to do and he looks good to me”.

“I’m concentrating on tomorrow’s game, I’m not even thinking about Saturday’s game. This is the only thing that interests me. We don’t know what’s going to happen and it doesn’t bother us”.

Varane and the centre backs
“He is feeling well and fully recovered. Pepe is still missing. The other three centre backs are all in very good condition. I’m happy to have all three available for this final stretch. We’ve had several games with only two centre backs available and it’s better to have three”.

Goals against
“The opponent aren’t getting chances easily, but it is true that we’re not keeping clean sheets like last year. We try to do as much as possible to make things difficult for opponents to scorer. At the same time, it’s impossible to avoid it altogether. This is football and the other team has their strengths as they look to hurt you. The important thing is to score a goal more than the opponent. Tomorrow is a knockout match and we will try to keep a clean sheet and score goals”.

“He looks good to me. He’s been playing well and he has a chance to play, but I’m not going to say who’ll play tomorrow”.

How to surprise the opposition
“With something different. We know each other very well and we’re not going to invent anything. We´ve prepared the game very well and we’re ready to play. You never know what’ll happen before a game. We’re looking forward to the start of the tie”.

“It’s a Champions League semi-final and there’s always an extra motivation. We have an big opponent in front of us. The small details will decide the tie and we want to see a great game of football”.

Hard opponent
“Atletico are a team that have been very good for four or five years and they get better every year. They’re a team that always makes it difficult for us, like a lot of teams do. The strength that they have is that they never give up, no matter what happens. They fight, they know their strengths and play to them. That said, we’ll see tomorrow because we have our weapons and we’ll be focused on our game”.

State of the team
“The team doesn’t look any worse than last year at this point. Getting to the semi-final indicates that the team is in good shape. Now two teams from the capital come up against each other, the rivalry is the same because it’s a derby and we both know each other very well”.

“The other day I spoke about nerves because it’s a normal feeling. Not only do Madrid players feel it. All players have a bit of nerves when it gets to the end of the season. There is pressure on a player when he plays a semi-final. We’re used to playing in this type of game and hopefully we’ll start well tomorrow. The important thing is that we concentrate on the game”.

Cristiano the finisher
“I look at Cristiano as a coach. I never played with him although I played against him. His stats are impressive. I was lucky enough to play with Ronaldo Nazario, who was also an extraordinary player. I was a little jealous because I didn’t score so many goals. I gave assists but didn’t have that feeling you get when scoring. They are decisive players”.

“We know the importance of Marcelo. He’s going in to it in the best form of his career. He doesn’t live in the past, he lives from what he is doing now. He always wants more and to help the team. What he’s doing lately shows that he’s a great player”.

Francescoli, Simeone and Mono Burgos
“Francescoli was my idol and seeing him is a pleasure. When we see each other, we talk about what we are doing today. Simeone and Mono Burgos are doing a phenomenal job for their team. I have a lot of respect for el Mono and I know him. I don’t know Simeone, just from playing against him, but I have a lot of respect for what he does because he is a very experienced coach”.


Carvajal: “We’re one step from reaching the final and hopefully it goes our way”
by Javier Garcia

“It’s going to be an even tie, like the last derbies, with not many chances and will be decided by small details”, he said.

Carvajal appeared with Zidane in the press room at Real Madrid City. The defender spoke about the key to overcoming Atletico in the semi-finals of the Champions League: “We’re not thinking about previous years. Every year we reset ourselves and we have new goals. We want to be in Cardiff, tomorrow we’ll try to take the first step to be in the final and hopefully we come out on top. It’s going to be an even tie, as in the last few years, there will be few occasions and the small details will decide it”.

“I have been fortunate enough to play in 15 derbies and they are all special. It’s the rivalry of this city, but more than a derby, it’s a Champions League semi-final and that is enough motivation to go out to beat the opponent and win the match”.

The fans
“The fans are a very important aspect for us. We have two matches at home. We ask them to be the twelfth man and help us like they have done all year”.

Clean sheet
“Hopefully we keep a clean sheet but if we do concede and still make it to Cardiff the fans will be happy. The small details can decide the match, like set pieces or game management. If I knew what the key was, I’d keep it to myself so we could win. Any result that see us leading and keeping a clean sheet would be good”.

“Isco is a different player. Each time he touches the ball it’s pure fantasy. We have 24 fantastic players and it’s a difficult job for the coach who has to decide”.

Good form
“I don’t compare myself with anyone. I try to do my job and help the team. I’m in good form and thank god things are going well”.

“I have many friends, not only at Atletico. Once the referee blows his whistle, friendships are put to one side until the match ends and everyone defends their colours”.

The opponents
“They will try to play their own game and uses their strengths to get through. We’re not thinking about the past. It’s a new tie and hopefully it goes our way”.

Cristiano and Griezmann
“They are different players, two world class players. Griezmann is a great player and last year he was close to winning the Champions League and the European Championships, which is what Cristiano won. I wish him a successful career, apart from in this tie”.


Call Ups

The following players were called up for the match:

Goalkeepers: Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Lucas Vázquez, Mariano and Morata.



Casemiro: “The crowd was incredible against Napoli and Bayern and always gives us energy”

“We know how strong Atletico are. It’s going to be a great tie to watch and very difficult to play in”, said the Brazilian.

In an interview with the official UEFA media, Casemiro reviewed Real Madrid’s progression in this season’s Champions League and spoke about the derby to be played on Tuesday (8:45pm CEST) in the semi-finals of the competition: “We know how strong Atletico Madrid are. It’s going to be a great tie to watch and very difficult to play in”. He also highlighted the role that the Madrid fans will play: “They are an extraordinary asset in these games”.

The semi-final against Atletico is approaching and it’s impossible not to think about the final in 2016. What memories do you have of that match?
It’s the most important title in my career because I felt that I was part of the victory. I don’t have words to describe it but each match is a different story. We know how strong Atletico are and it’ll be a very difficult tie because they play good football and have quality players. If I’m not mistaken, they’ve been in three of the last four semi-finals, so they deserves a lot of respect. We must go in to the tie with humility. The first match being at home will be very important and we have to get a good result. It’s going to be a great tie to watch and very difficult to play in.

Would you rather play against a team that doesn’t know Real Madrid so well or is it a positive because you also know Atletico?
When you play against Bayern, Atletico or Juventus, with the technology around today you end up familiarising yourself with the style of their players. Playing against Atletico is different because it’s a derby, with the added impact that it has. But for the players it’s a tie just like any other.

Real Madrid have been stronger in the knockout matches against Napoli and Bayern than in the Group Stage, where for example they had trouble against Legia and Borussia. Why do you think this happened?
I would put it down to the fans in the knockouts. They made the difference against Napoli and both at home and away against Bayern. I think the crowd was incredible. They deserve to be recognised as well. They are always there, but you notice them more in the Champions League matches. They are an extraordinary asset in these qualifying matches.

What’s the experience like for the players on Champions League nights at the Bernabéu and the welcome from the fans when the team bus arrives at the stadium?
I would like to ask the fans to keep that tradition going in the match against Atletico because we feel they are with us, even before the game starts, it give us energy and inspires us. When you see the fans supporting you with passion, cheering you on the bus, it gives you an extra boost.

At Real Madrid, your defensive effort is highly valued, but you are also scoring goals like against Napoli. What do you enjoy the most?
Midfielders must be complete players. You can’t just be there to break things up, you have to build play too, play good long passes and get in to shooting positions. The midfielder is the heart of the team, so you have to be constantly evolving and you can’t focus on just one thing. If you have a good midfield you have a good team and I always try to improve.

What is it like working with Zidane? What is it like working with a coach who as a player was a worldwide star?
He wasn’t just a star, he was also my idol. He was a player I always admired. I turned on the television wanting to see him play. When he was Ancelotti’s assistant, he was a friend rather than a coach. Now it’s different because he’s the coach. Besides being the coach he is very respectful and a great friend for us. Thanks to his experience as a player he knows how we think. One of the best things about Zidane is how he behaves off the field, because he treats players very well.

I want to ask you about Marcelo. What does it mean to you having a fellow countryman at the club, especially considering that he was also very young when he came to the club?
Not many people know this, but I knew Marcelo before coming to Real Madrid. I knew him from the national team. When I arrived he was one of the people who helped me to settle in, even when I was at Castilla. He welcomed me and taught me many things. I love Marcelo. If we talk about football I would say that he is the best fullback and a player with incredible quality, he surprises me in every training session. But I also admire him as a person. He advises me and I try to imitate him off the field because he is a footballer who is always focused on the club. He’s been here for ten years for a reason.



Isco: “Atletico compete very well and it’s going to be an even tie”

“I’m lucky to have had the support of the Bernabéu crowd since the first day I stepped out on to the pitch”, he said in an interview with Codere Apuestas.

Isco spoke about the Champions League semi-finals against Atletico in an interview with Codere Apuestas: “Atletico are a very difficult team and the two-legged matches make it even more difficult. I’ve been in Madrid for four years and in each of the four we’ve faced them in the Champions League. Hopefully the outcome will be the same as in previous years”.

“They’ll be really keen to beat us after the two Champions Leagues that we’ve won. Atletico are a very good team, they have shown that, they compete very well and it’s going to be a very close tie”.

The tie against Bayern
“The Champions League anthem always motivates you in a special way. They’re big nights at the Bernabéu, a quarter-final against Bayern, you don’t have to say much more. After conceding the goal in Germany we didn’t let it get us down. We got a good result at a difficult stadium. The team didn’t let their guard down in the second leg. In the end, in extra time, with all our strength we managed to turn it around”.

“I’m lucky to have had the support of the Bernabéu crowd since the first day I stepped out on to the pitch. It’s easier that way. Football is magic for me, it’s a special feeling every time I walk out on to the pitch and touch the ball. That’s how I would define what magic is”.

Memories of Ramos’ goal in Lisbon
“It still makes my hairs stand up. It was a really important goal, when he scored it, I knew we wouldn’t lose. It came at a key moment and I felt like I’d also scored the goal”.

The penalty shootout in Milan
“It’s the most stressful moment in my entire career. You have to be there to experience it. In the end, if it had still been level after the first five penalties, I would have taken one as well. The important thing is that my teammates put them away and we were able to win la Undécima. In those moments I was in my own world, I only remember that when Cristiano scored the winning goal we ran to embrace him and it’s a moment that I’ll never forget”.


Hala Madrid!

– Lozil

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