April 25, 2011

Sergio Ramos: "The fans have to score our first goal against Barcelona"

"The team is as united as ever and will give its all on the pitch"

Sergio Ramos embodies the spirit of the Real Madrid squad prior to the Champions League semifinals against Barcelona. The defender and second team captain analysed the coming fixtures with the eternal foe.

Great victory against Valencia on Saturday. The team played a serious and solid game.
I’m happy with, and proud of, the team we have. I believe all Madridistas who saw the game enjoyed themselves watching footballers who normally don’t get a chance to play. They proved this side doesn’t just have eleven important players. We are all equally important and we live up to expectations on the pitch. Kaka, Canales, Granero and Higuain played at Mestalla. The latter has just recovered from a serious injury and was very excited to be starter. They all responded.

Regular starters are probably even more excited to play in the Champions League. The entire squad is focused on the semifinals…
It is essential for us to reach such a crucial stage in the campaign, and it is important that all men on the squad get playing time. We all have the same excitement and we all want to help out. The squad as a whole is what really matters, not individual players. The team is more united than ever and we all want to accomplish important things. We are on the right path. We proved it at Mestalla and we do so in every training session.

The support of the Bernabeu will be essential once more against Barcelona.
That’s right. We are all very proud of the crowd’s response this season. There was a change during the campaign by which our fans became even more devoted and excited. It happened when we faced Olympique Lyonnais, Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona at the Bernabeu. It’s the fans who have to score the first goal for us. Every visiting side at the Bernabeu has to be weary of the atmosphere. They must really be aware of what it means to play at a stadium like ours. Our fans are essential to us and they are the ones we are really grateful to.

How do you expect the Bernabeu to react on Wednesday?
You don’t expect less than what it’s been like in recent games because you get used to that. The response of the crowd is essential to us. We expect the Bernabeu to embrace its team, to give us support to the very last minute and to never doubt we will give our all on the pitch. I believe that is precisely what the fans are grateful for. Those are the values the club instills and we must showcase them on the pitch.

How is the squad feeling before such an important game?
It is more united than ever. We are all extremely excited about the times we are living. The Champions League is a very important competition and it is at stake for us. Now is when we must show everyone how excited we are.

How’s Mourinho doing?
He is as relaxed as he always is. The coach never changes his philosophy, style and habits. He has a clear idea of what he wants and we will continue to work in the same way. We will not modify our work for any team.

The match on Wednesday will be important, but not decisive. You will then face Barcelona at Camp Nou in the return leg.
That’s something we must always have in mind. This is a 180-minute game. The work we’ve been doing so far and our knowledge of our opponent will make us play similarly to our first two games against them, but we must realise it is a 180-minute game.

What worries you the most about this match?
Given the fact that it’s a Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, what I most want is for the game to be clean, healthy and sportsman like. I’d like people to avoid exaggerating injuries or fouls, and for the referee to be completely impartial to both sides. People even criticized a correct call the ref made at the end of the Copa del Rey final, which I think is too much. Above all, I’d like Madridismo and all football fans to enjoy this celebration of the sport.

This will be the third Clasico this month, but expectations and excitement are as high as ever.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have great players and no one knows what will happen. We all know of the responsibility we have and what it takes to defend these crests. We will have to give our all to win.

Is there a favorite in these games?
We don’t regard ourselves as favourites because we won’t earn anything by assuming so. I believe it’s been simplicity, humility and hard work that have taken us this far. Those are the values we must uphold.

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