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Raphael Varane: "Many would like to see Real Madrid lose, but they're not in the majority"

REAL MADRID

Raphael Varane: "Many would like to see Real Madrid lose, but they're not in the majority"

Varane talks to AS.

FRANCK FIFE

AFP

Real Madrid defender Varane spoke to Diario AS ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich.

You've now been injury-free for four months, and look in really good form...

I feel good. It's true that we conceded three against Juventus, but I don't feel like I played badly. I think the team are doing a good job, and that, when we keep our shape in defence, we give our opponents very little space. On a personal level, I'm very happy: I'm playing a lot and I think I'm contributing significantly to the team, be it in the tackle, in the air or with the way I bring the ball out from the back. I try to have as positive an effect on the team as possible.

Real Madrid's LaLiga campaign has been disappointing, but in the Champions League you've got a semi-final with Bayern coming up...

These two matches are massive, and will be really tough. We know Bayern are going to come at us hard and try to get us on the back foot. We're going to have to be physically strong and, at the same time, show the right technical ability to counteract their plans. We're Real Madrid, though: we're absolutely used to these big occasions. We know all about showing the kind of calm and composure that these types of games need. Yes, we're up against Bayern, but there's no need to put any extra pressure on ourselves than there is already. What's most important is that we play like we know we can, and that we give our all out there.

What's your view on all the talk of anti-Real Madrid sentiment?

It's clear that there are many people who'd really like to see us lose. There's no doubt about that. But they're not in the majority. We feel the love of our fans, and we know that Real Madrid are a club that are adored the world over. In recent years, we've been right up there at the business end of the Champions League, and certain people can't handle that and want to see us get knocked out. But that's part and parcel of football. I'm aware people are waiting to see us fail against Bayern and that it's going to be tougher than last year. But I insist: our critics are not the majority. There are many people who are right behind us.

Are you motivated by so much criticism?

We're used to dealing with this sort of pressure, and we like it. Winning is very difficult in itself, but winning every year is all the more difficult. And we know that everyone's going to be watching us, be it to see us fail or succeed. Against Bayern, we have to keep cool heads; that's the most important thing to remember when the going gets tough. We have experience in our favour.

Bayern come into the semi out for revenge for last year's Champions League tie... Their coach, Jupp Heynckes, has said so.

It's a Champions League semi-final, so that in itself means it's sure to be a fierce contest. What the Bayern coach says isn't going to change the way we prepare for these two legs one bit.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo is producing the goods up top for Real Madrid. What if he has an off night in Munich?

Then the likes of Karim Benzema or Gareth Bale will be the ones who do the business... I believe the other forwards can contribute important goals. It's true that the things Cristiano does are incredible, though. Every time people think he isn't going to scale the same heights, he goes and scores another hatful of goals. We've got used to Cristiano amazing us all year after year.

Against Athletic Bilbao, you drew level with the 227 Real Madrid appearances made by your coach, Zinedine Zidane...

That makes me very proud, because Zidane is an idol of mine. I still haven't spoken to him about it in private, but I'm sure we'll talk about it over the coming days.

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