Open Media Day 2018

22 May

Greetings from a small Caribbean island where I am currently on vacation!  While I’m idling in the sun, it’s full speed ahead in Madrid.

Training

The entire 24 member squad was available today and were put through their paces in front of 260 members of the press from 130 media outlets worldwide. (Video)

Presser

FROM REALMADRID.COM

Zidane: “We are Real Madrid, we always strive for more”
by Alberto Navarro | Photographer; Angel Martinez

“Our experience will not give us any edge at all. It’s a football match and we have to show that we want to win it”, reiterated the coach at the Open Media Day.

Zinedine Zidane spoke to the press at Real Madrid City as part of the Open Media Day. The Whites coach spoke about the Champions League final against Liverpool: “I don’t know how much our rivals want this, but what i can assure you of is the desire that this club has, it never goes away. No one can say we don’t have that same hunger. We’re Real Madrid and that is what we’re about. We always strive for more and we will give it our all”.

“We are ready for the game. How can anyone think we have less hunger than our rivals? That is not true. They are going to throw everything at us and we know that. They had a great season and things can get tricky at any time. There are no surprises and both teams know each other really well.”

Liverpool
“they are a good team, they made it to the final and they deserve to be here just like us. We must prepare for the game, look at our opponent’s flaws and try to hurt them. It is one match and we are both playing away from home. We are ready and experience will not give us any edge at all. It’s a football match and we have to show that we want to win it.”

“It’s a final. We both want to win the trophy. Winning last year is irrelevant and so is the fact they have not reached the final for 11 years. We want to see a great football match and we are going to give it everything.”

The hard road to the final
“It is always like that. It is brilliant just to get to the final itself because it is never easy. Winning two Champions League finals was spectacular, we had to suffer. In the knockout stages, you have to play against the best in Europe and that has a certain important value, especially if you cast your memory back over the tough season we have had”.

“We are in the final and we have four days to prepare for it. The hardest part is getting into the final. It has been complicated this year and winning away from home never means the tie is dead. This time will fight to the death”.

The dressing room
“I spent 17 or 18 years as a player, worked with many coaches and some gifted players with the ego to match. I know very well how players think and that is important for a coach, but that’s not the only thing. That will not win you games, you need grit and a philosophy. Tactically I’m not the best coach, the press say it themselves, but I have the drive and passion and that means a lot. It was much easier for me as a player. You all know what I do well and badly. I am so passionate about football.”

“Every now and then things give me a headache but that is the life of a coach. The people on the bench are also very important. The players that do not start cannot think they will not feature at all because from the bench my players can make a real difference and be the game changer. I want everyone switched on. That’s why I am not saying now who plays because that can damage a footballer.”

Praise for Cristiano Ronaldo
“A player can go through some hard times, but when he does not score he does not get wound up. He knows that the next game he could maybe score two or three goals. That is what happened this year. That’s what makes him the best. There are players that do not thrive under pressure but some do thrive. He is one of those that does. The more you criticise him, the more you should beware. I am a quiet person and in the end, it is better to have Cristiano Ronaldo by your side because he shows year in year out that he is top dog. He will be vital, because he is the best there is”.

“I know how things work in the dressing room and sometimes the magic doesn’t happen if they do not get along. Perhaps you can still win trophies, but to win regularly you need a good, united dressing room. My players get along well. They work very well together and just that talent alone is not enough. Without hard work, you cannot win. They have that raw talent and also the work ethic. It is not simply that it is the third final in a row. I have a group of incredible players. When I was a player I did not what being on the bench was like, but it must be hard.”

The Cristiano Ronaldo-Benzema link
“I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know these kinds of things don’t happen all the time. You can get great players who do not link up well, but they do. When a group works hard and connects well it is a great thing. All of the work we do throughout the week is what fosters such a strong link”.

Bale
“he is doing well, he scored plenty of goals and has found real continuity, especially in terms of regular training. He did well in the run-in, scoring goals and performing well”.

BBC
“I spend every day with them but other players need opportunities because if not the message that everyone is important does not ring true. The BBC are the best by far. They have shown it countless times, but the day to day is the vital part and my ideas and what I say to the players must be followed up by what I do. The BBC played in Barcelona. Now we are all ready for this game and that is what we wanted.”

Line-up
“I’m not going to tell you. You’ll see soon enough. They can’t all play, some of my players are set and some are not going to play at all. That’s the hardest thing: to reach the final and know that you’re not going to get any game time. ”

His record as a coach
“I’ve been here for almost three years. There has not been a specific moment that stands out. If I have to highlight something it is the day to day work. If you look at how we work, despite the difficulties we’ve come across, we deliver, we have the enthusiasm needed and the desire to always give it our best”.

Positive thinking
“I always remain positive. My parents taught me that. If you think you’re going to fail then you most likely will. You must always stay positive”.

Praise for Klopp
“He is a great coach, he showed that at Dortmund and he continues to impress with Liverpool, which is paramount. I have loads of respect for him, he is an expert coach”.

Will the season be a failure if you lose?
“It will not be a waste. The big failure for me, as I said before, was in the Copa del Rey because we lost at home and were knocked out. That was a cruel blow for us. But that’s it. Real Madrid always look to win, but you can’t always count on it. The important thing for us is show our drive and ensure we don’t slip up. You need setbacks in life if you want to improve”.

 

Interviews

The first team wwere interviewed by the media (including Alvaro Arbeloa for Real Madrid TV!). Here’s a few comments (and get ready for a whole lotta thumbs upping!):

FROM REALMADRID.COM

Cristiano: “We could make history”

“I have the chance to win my fourth Champions League title, this club has surpassed my expectations”, stated Bale.

Cristiano Ronaldo spoke to the press as part of the Open Media Day, giving his thoughts on the final in Kiev: “It would be a historic moment if we win. We are all really looking forward to it. We can make history if we win three Champions Leagues in a row, but we’re not looking at it like that. I am keeping the faith, I feel good about it. These finals are always special occasions. We need to respect Liverpool. They deserve their place in the final. They remind me of the Real Madrid of days gone by, with fast, pacey forwards. I think we are better, but of course you always have to respect your rivals”.

“The Champions League is a meaningful competition for both the club and for me as a player. These nights produce iconic matches. You have to do battle against the best teams in the world. We had a spectacular season and I feel content with it. When you’re at this club you cannot take your foot off the gas, least of all in this competition. I love that side of it because it motivates me a lot and I want to be at my best on Saturday to help the team and lift the trophy. It does not matter who scores.”

Bale: “I never imagined I’d play in so many finals”
“I feel great, I’m ready for the final. This is history. Last year we got our second Champions League in a row and now we want more. We know this is no mean feat, we’re up against a determined side. I think I’m on fine form physically: I have scored over the last few weeks. A came to this great club to win titles and it is going to be a special day. I never imagined playing in so many finals. I have played in three and this could be a fourth win, it has blown any expectations I had out of the water”.

Kroos: “Being favourites means nothing”
“Playing in one final is difficult; two, even harder; playing in three is crazy. No one has ever achieved it and I do not think it will happen again soon. In matches like this we need a little more focus on our opponents, their style of play and their plans. I have played against Klopp several times and I am familiar with how their teams are: Liverpool will have 11 players running like wild animals, they will be driven for the full 90 minutes and they’ll be playing at 100% or more if possible. Their front line is impressive but they have a good defense and a solid midfield. Being favourites does not mean anything.”

Carvajal: “The team have stayed motivated”
“I was able to play the 90 minutes against Villarreal and I was fine. I’m ready for Saturday. The team have stayed hungry and motivated in recent years and that is not easy. No team had managed to retain the title like we did and that has to count for something”.

Kroos:”Playing in one final is difficult; Two, even harder. Playing in three is crazy.”
“A key moment for us was the knockout tie in Paris: people doubted us and it looked like in March we were set for some difficult months but we stamped our authority on the game across Europe”.

Varane: “We want to keep on making history”
“We’re preparing well for the match, we know how challenging it will be. We want to keep on making history. Liverpool are in the final for good reason, they have played a great season. The forwards are their focal point and need to be very focused. We are at the last stage of the season in good form and that is great news for everyone because this competition is a driving force for the team. This season has been a vast improvement for me.”

Ceballos: “We’ll give our all”
“This will be my first final and it is a historic moment. We stay driven by the game. You dream of playing these kinds of games since childhood and I am over the moon to be able to be at this club and have a chance to make history. The coach tells us that we have to keep calm, be ourselves and keep giving 100% to round off a magnificent season. We’re going to go all out.”

Theo: “The team are ready for the final”
“We have to be calm. The team are doing well, ready for the final. We have to give our all, this is my first final. I am excited and content with our progress. I hope we win. I learned a lot this year. My teammates have helped me day to day and I need to keep growing and learning”.

Luca: “Proud to play at the world’s best club”
“I am happy, Proud to play at the world’s best club. I’ve been at Real Madrid for years and getting into the first team after so many years is great. Everyone is focussed on the final on Saturday, let’s see what happens”.

 

FROM REALMADRID.COM

Ramos: “We have a classic team and we are going to fight tooth and nail in Kiev”

“It is an honour to play another final in the Champions League, we want to play well”, said Isco.

The Real Madrid captain spoke at the Open Media Day, discussing his approach to the Champions League final. Sergio Ramos stated: “It’s a moment in history and I hope we can lift our third consecutive Champions League trophy. We have a classic team and we should recognise that. We are going to fight tooth and nail to bring the Cup to Madrid.”

“We beat very tough teams on the way here and we deserve to be here. We have another opportunity to defend our title and comes after working hard, it is a reward for sacrifice. We have managed to get to the finals and be comfortable. The team has a nice atmosphere around it, we all pull together, and that is what makes the difference for us. Being untied made us successful. “

Navas: “We are thrilled at the prospect of winning our Thirteenth European Cup””A final is a great chance. Reaching this final is very difficult. It is a privilege that we have and we need to make the most of this. It is the third consecutive final and the team’s fourth in five years. It has been a difficult season at times, but the run-in was very good. We are very excited to win a Thirteenth European Cup and we will give it our all. We are confident, looking forward, hoping to enjoy what the weekend brings with the fans. “

Isco: “This is a historic team”“It is an honour to play another final in the Champions League with Real Madrid. We want to play well, so the fans enjoy it, we want the cup. Physically I feel alright. I was got a shoulder injury and had to deal with it for three weeks, but I worked well and came back as best I could. This team is historic, there are no limits and I hope we continue to keep bringing joy to the fans.”

Navas: “It is a privilege that we have and we need to make the most of this.”“The key is for us all to be focussed. We know we have a truly talented deep squad, but only eleven can play. The key for us is that we are all ready to go so that the coach can count on the entire squad. “

Lucas: “We must take the chance to make history”“We are growing stronger. This is the business end of the season and we are doing things better and that is a good thing for all involved. We must take the chance to make history, because winning three Champions in a row is what we want. Things are turning out well for us lately and if I can help the team win, then I’m thrilled.”

Mayoral: “A young squad in the final like this is a dream”“Getting into the Champions League final, for a squad like ours, really is a dream. I love every day I spend here and I hope we can win on Saturday. If we get it, we can make history. I bounced back this season, I have relished it and I have learned from the best. It has been a learning curve this season. Scoring against Borussia Dortmund was great because it was my first game where I started in the Champions League. I’ll never forget that night. “

Vallejo: “This is a huge challenge for the club and our fans”” This is a huge challenge for the club and our fans and we have to bear things in mind in Kiev. This has been a stellar year, my first Champions League match was a proud moment for me. I got chills when I heard the anthem, because there is a lot of work behind it. The final will be a great match and we are prepared. We need to be intense, keep our concentration and go all out. “

FROM REALMADRID.COM

Marcelo: “We have the desire to win another final”

“Thanks to all madridistas for all your support, and hopefully we can celebrate another title on Saturday”, commented Asensio.

The Real Madrid squad spoke to the press prior to the Champions League final, against Liverpool in Kiev (Saturday, 8:45pm CEST). Marcelo summed up how the dressing room is approaching the big night, speaking to Realmadrid TV: “We are training well. We all feel good and our mind is set on the final. It will be special to play another final and it will be hard going because Liverpool have done brilliantly and they deserve this. They are a great team and we’ve seen just that over the season.”

“We all really want to play. There are three training sessions left for us to prepare as well as we can and, although in a final anything can happen, we have that drive and motivation to win for ourselves and for the club. As we have won the last two it seems easy, but it is not. Every training session, each match at home and away takes its toll and reaching a final is tricky. We know how difficult it is and that is why we are hungry to win it. Playing a final is a true honour and something to savour.”

Asensio: “Liverpool have a brilliant dynamic”
“We’re raring to go, really excited to be in another final. We know this will not be a walkover. Liverpool have a brilliant dynamic, they’ve had a terrific season but we have to believe in ourselves. In Cardiff, it was a real rush, because it was my first final and scored. This term I had some memorable moments and I got that key goal in Munich, that really helped us in the knockout tie. Thanks to all madridistas for all your support, and hopefully we can celebrate another title on Saturday”.

Casemiro: “We are ready”
“We know the fans believe in us. Their support is so important for us and hopefully we can celebrate in the Bernabéu on Sunday, having won the title. We are ready and with the fans backing us we are stronger. In football, you always have to go out and try to play the game. There are no favourites. It is a Champions League final and we must respect Liverpool. We know it will be a tough game, but we want to win”.

Asensio: “Liverpool have been brilliant this season but we have to believe in ourselves.”
“My role is clear. I have to bring balance to the side, help out my teammates. We know their front three are on fine form, but we have respect for all their players. They are powerful, aggressive at the back and you have to be careful”.

Nacho: “There is always pressure in the final”
“The team are confident, we want the final to come around. We beat teams along the way who could have been in the final, they were champions of their teams and we are content because we have played the best. We have just Liverpool to beat, they will be the same if not better. These are special games and we have to remain calm. There is always pressure in the final. We have an important challenge ahead in winning it three times. That makes us concentrate and go out there looking to make history. We are ready for these kinds of games”.

Kovacic: “Playing yet another final is truly special”
“We are doing well, Playing yet another final is truly special. Since arriving at the club, we’ve always been a handful in the Champions League and it seems normal, but it isn’t. I am doing well, I have worked hard to get here and every year I feel better, even though there is a lot to learn. Hopefully the madridista fans will be with us as we try for la Decimotercera. Hala Madrid”.

Casilla: “We are doing something pretty spectacular”
“At the moment, we are not so aware of what is going on around us. As the years go by we will value it much more because now we simply don’t have a second to think. It’s something spectacular. It seems like it’s easy, but it has not been a walk in the park. This week of the final is very intense, people stop us on the streets and talk to us about bringing another Champions League home”.

Llorente: “We are feeling good”
“We’re calm, ambitious and full of desire. We feel pretty good. Despite being the third final in a row it still feels like the first. We are training hard and we can’t wait for Saturday.”

Achraf: “The coach believes in me”
“From the very first day I had a lot of faith from the coach and for me this has been a tremendous season. I look up to Carvajal because he sets such a precedent and is the best full-back in the world. “

I’ll try to update as much as I can this week but to be honest, I’m trying to remain unplugged as much as I can because it I log in, I am apparently incapable of not checking work email. I ended up working for a couple hours today trying to put out some fires. The whole point of me coming here was to get away from that. But it is the Champions League final so…

– Lozil

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