Casillas: "This is Spanish football's prettiest match of the season so far"
With the moment of truth finally here, Iker Casillas discussed how Real Madrid and its fans must stick together if they are to win their first title of the season.
You have always expressed your desire to win the Copa del Rey. What is reason behind it?
It is a very important trophy for Real Madrid and we cannot afford to not win it for 17 years. It will be even more important if we do win it. It is vital. I have not won it in the eleven years I have been here.
Seventeen years is a long wait. Does the team believe the time has come to win the Cup?
We believe it is time to win many trophies. We know it won’t be easy. It will be a great match between the two best teams in Spain. Anything can happen, but we are excited about our chances. We hope we can win the Cup.
The team must be even more motivated due to the fact that the other finalist is Barcelona.
The motivation should always be the same no matter who the opponent is. But it should be even greater when the first trophy of the season is up for grabs. That is all the motivation we need.
These matches motivate players. At no time can we give up. We did respond well when our opponent had the upper hand. We fought, we ran and we sacrificed ourselves, and that is what fans want. They want a Real Madrid that never gives up.
Is the team in better sprits after shutting down Barcelona with only ten men over the weekend?
I think so. It isn’t easy with everything that is coming up. That match was a turning point for us and it helped boost our morale. Whatever the case may be, it can all be summed up by the fact that the ball may go in and that we score more goals than them.
You begin preparing from the moment you know you will be in final and that you will be facing Barcelona. My teammates and I have been thinking about this match for three months. It’s now upon us and it is all we are preparing for. It is a final and Spanish football's prettiest match of the season so far. We hope it falls in our favor.
As captain, what advice can you give your teammates?
Advice? That they have fun. They need to know that there will be a lot of Real Madrid fans supporting them and that many will try to make it to the game in Valencia. We need to think about the 18,000 to 20,000 fans that will be in the stands. We hope we can recognize them and see them from the pitch. We must win for them, the club and for us as well.
What has Madrid done this year to join Mourinho in placing so much importance on the Cup?
The coach is a winner and he has placed importance on the Cup from day one. Mourinho believes every match is important and he has made sure that we focus only on this match. That is what he stuck in our heads and we have come out on top against everyone from Murcia to Levante to Atletico and Sevilla. We sense his desire to reach and win the final.
Fan support will play a crucial role in winning.
Without a doubt. It will be crucial. We cannot wait to see that southern stands full of Madridistas. We thank them for being there because making the tip and planning their Easter vacation around this is a big deal.
Can you imagine Mestalla’s South stand full of Madridistas? What do you want to see come Wednesday?
Really, great atmosphere. I want the fans to have fun and to enjoy supporting their team. They need to know that we will do everything we can to win, but that things may turn out for the better of for the worse. But we want them to have fun and to ensure that we are a role model of a club and fan base.
Pirri, who won the 1974 Cup against Barcelona, said that this team has recovered the spirit that always defined this team. Do you see it that way, too?
We have seen historic turn arounds since the dayts of Juanito, Butragueño and the Quinta. This team must always fight and push itself to the limit. It may play well or poorly, but it can never give up for dead. We have a coach who thinks like this and who teaches it to us every day. The players have received the message well.