Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui spoke to the media ahead of the Champions League game against CSKA: "I make the decisions and it was my decision."
Julen Lopetegui attended to the media ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League away game against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, during which he discussed his decision to hand Sergio Ramos a rest, Álvaro Odriozola and Vinicius Junior and the 0-0 draw against Atlético in the derby.
After the derby draw, what direction do you need to take?
The same one, to approach every game in the best possible way, trying to win and to earn points. It’s a beautiful stage, the stadium for the game has been changed so we can imagine the kind of atmosphere there’s going to be. [CSKA] are a good side, with top players. It will be a very demanding game.
You’re playing at the Luzhniki, where you were unable to play [with Spain] during the World Cup. Has that crossed your mind?
No, I haven’t thought about it. It’s special become I’m coming here with Madrid to play against one of the biggest Russian clubs in the Champions League. We’re concentrating on what affects us.
What were your thoughts after the derby?
It was a tough and demanding game with many positive aspects. We improved as the game progressed and we were felt we were clearly superior under the circumstances. We have the resources to face up to these kinds of difficult games. We set ourselves the task of creating chances and making sure they didn’t. And in that sense, it went well.
Are you concerned by the number of injuries you’ve got?
It would be a demanding game anyway, our opponents are a quality side. They’re also playing at home. From there, we’ll solve whatever problems we face with the resources at our disposal. We don’t know if they’ll play with four or five at the back. But whatever they do, we’ll provide a good answer.
CSKA have only lost one of their last 11 games…
They’re on a good run, they have important players coming back and they could have won by more against Plzen. We’ll see how they line up, they usually play with five at the back although they may change that. Chalov, Dzagoev, Vlasic… they have players that will oblige us to have a very good game.
Lopetegui: "We have the utmost confidence in Odriozola"
How are the players after the recent run of results?
The team is in fantastic shape, with a lot of energy. It’s a Champions League game. It’s open, we’re playing a great side in their stadium. But when that music starts to play it’s a huge source of motivation. We’re sure that with what we have at our disposal we’ll be able to get the result we want.
Odriozola and Vinicius aren’t getting much playing time at the moment…
We have the utmost confidence in Odriozola, absolutely maximum. When it’s his turn to play, he’ll play. I have absolute confidence in him. Vinicius is going through a process [of adaptation] and he has a great future in front of him. When we think he can help the team we’ll use him, as is the case with all the players.
Why is Ramos not in the squad?
He didn’t travel because he’s played over 100 minutes more than any other player. It’s a good time for him to rest and his hamstrings will be grateful. I make the decisions and it was my decision.
With Ceballos, Madrid were more dominant against Atlético. Does the team work better with four midfielders in terms of pressure and intensity?
Dani is a young player who we have said all along that we like a lot and he is a Madrid player through and through. We are starting to figure out bit by bit how he fits into the team. And he is responding to that. The set-up depends on specific moments and dictates whether we play with three or four midfielders. We have to look for solutions, one way or the other, but without sacrificing our style or the necessity to win.
The Russian media have been speculating that due to the players missing now is the best time to hurt Madrid…
They’ll be very happy then. We’ll talk again tomorrow.