Rafael Benitez: Our goal is to progress as group winners
Real Madrid head coach has answered questions from media on the eve of the match with Shakhtar.
- Florentino Perez has said that the crisis in the team has been going on since January. Do you think this is true?
- I do not think so. We have a great team and great players. We are showing very good results, with the exception of the two previous matches that we lost. For us, these games were really important, so we are all very upset. But our next goal is to start winning as soon as possible and please the fans. At least, we have to do everything possible to make it happen.
- What's more important to you in the upcoming match: to take three points or to make up for the game with Barcelona?
- As I said, this defeat upset us very much, because the game was very important. Now our main task is to focus on tomorrow's game. We will face tough opponents guided by a very experienced coach. Our goal is to progress as group winners, so tomorrow we are determined to win!
- What mood are you in after yesterday's press conference by Florentino Perez? He expressed his full trust and confidence in you as a coach... Do you feel the players’ support?
- Of course, I want to thank the club for their support and belief in me. As for the players, as Keylor Navas has just said, we talked and analysed the errors. We are motivated to get the result. And I think that two defeats will not change this attitude, will not break the tendency of being one unit and play well. Therefore, it makes no sense talking about crisis.
- Again, going back to Barcelona, do you regret about the choice of the starting line-up in the game, and that those players who were left on the bench did not start?
- Of course, I understand your concern, because the match was important, but we have talked so much about it, and we have analysed it so many times... Therefore, the only conclusion that we can draw now - in the future, we will try not to make the same mistakes and do possible to achieve the best results. Now we are at the beginning of the season - only November, so we have all the possibilities to do it.
- There have been a lot of media reports about your conflict with Cristiano Ronaldo. Is it so?
- No, that's not true. Cristiano is a very hard working player. He is a key player of our team. And we have no problems.
- In a match, in which Real Madrid showed one of their best games, the midfield featured Kroos, Casemiro and Modric. Do you think that these players were the main factor behind a good game in that match?
- Of course, they are very strong players. But, I think that they are not the main reason behind our success. Because the main thing for us is the players’ team effort. All the players at Real Madrid are good. And when they work together as a team, they show a very good game. Because not only that match was good - we have had a plenty of such games. We try not to depend on the names, we gear up only for the result. Also, we will try to forget about the last two defeats, because those were bad matches. That said, not the entire game with Sevilla was poor.
- What is your mood before the game?Did you like how hundreds of fans in Lviv received you?
- Of course, I liked the reception! The fans’ love was clear. As for my mood, of course, I was upset after Saturday. But tomorrow's match will serve as my rehabilitation. We are determined to get the result and try to win, not only in this game, but also achieve every possible trophy this season.
- After Saturday's game, you asked the players for unity. After four months, during which you have been managing the team, do you think that the players trust you?
- I have absolutely no doubts about that. Proof of this is our victories in the Spanish league and the result in the Champions League. We have already progressed from the group stage with two games left. We have professional and strong players. As I said, we will try to avoid mistakes and play to get the result.
- You have said that the team are playing well. However, the second half of the match with PSG and the game with Sevilla have shown that Real Madrid slowed down very much. You have said that you will correct mistakes, what mistakes? What conclusions have you drawn?
- I would not say that the game with PSG was so bad. In the Sevilla tie, we looked good in the first half too. As for the mistakes and poor results as a whole, they will help us focus only on what we do well, and stick to it. We will try to focus on our team play, individual qualities of players. Only by working on improving ourselves and working together, the team can achieve positive results.
- Due to injuries, you have to replace Ramos and Marcelo.
- I understand: whatever replacements I make, it always causes criticism. Some people will not like it. We cannot play two games a week without rotating the squad. Tomorrow I will give a chance to someone who is ready and who has proved that he is worthy to take to the pitch.
- You have said that you are constantly criticised, no matter what you do. Do you feel that this criticism is unfair?
- I understand my responsibility for the results of the team, so I try to do everything to keep everyone happy: the players, the fans and the club. Of course, Real Madrid will always be in the sights of criticism. It happens even when we show good results. As I said, we are set to work. I am an optimist and I believe that everything will pan out well for us.
- Navas has said that the whole team should make more efforts. We see that sometimes Real Madrid commit errors in defence. Will you continue to follow your strategy in the defence, or is it worth changing the squad for tomorrow's match, so as not to make the mistakes again?
- As I said, after the Barcelona clash, we have carried out analysis. Navas also said that we analysed the mistakes. I'm a hundred percent confident the players’ attitude has nothing to do with that. I have absolutely no doubts regarding my players. All of them give their best. We must take what we can do well and build on it.
- Returning to the subject of criticism: does it hurt you?
- First of all, I am always upset about losing a game. Especially after such losses as a home defeat at the hands of Barcelona. But I cannot control criticism. All that remains for me is to concentrate on my work.
- Were you worried about your place in the team after the Barcelona clash? What does the president’s support mean to you?
- I have been in football for many years and I understand that the two defeats cannot influence the situation in the team. Naturally, I appreciate the fact that the president expressed his trust, supporting me and the team. This will allow us to be one team, which is the key to success.
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