Goals from Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas gave Real Madrid a clean 4-1 win over Al-Ahly in the semifinal of the Club World Cup on Wednesday night.
Yet, the game was far from straightforward. After securing a safe two-goal cushion, the European champions conceded one to bring the game to a nail-biting finish. A missed penalty later, the game was hanging by a thread until Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas buried it in stoppage time.
Several Real Madrid players spoke to the media after their win midweek. Here is the synopsis of their press interactions.
Rodrygo started as the central striker against the Egyptian opposition and scored Real Madrid’s third goal on the night two minutes into extra time. He spoke to the press about the team’s performance and said that they could have scored many more.
“It was a great game although the opposition made it difficult for us at times. We played well and created a lot of chances. We could have scored more goals, but we are in the final, which is the important thing,” he said.
Real Madrid face Al-Hilal in the final of the Club World Cup after the Saudi-based side defeated Flamengo in the semifinal. Rodrygo shared his thoughts on the final and what to expect from the game, saying:
“The final will be difficult. We were watching Al Hilal’s semi-final and they are very good. We have to watch out for them. It’s going to be a difficult final, but we’re focused, now we’re going to get some rest and hopefully win the title.”
Federico Valverde has seen a sudden slump in form after starting the season strong. The Uruguayan addressed the media after his impressive game against Al-Ahly, that included a goal, and attributed it to god comfort with the side.
“I’m really pleased and feel comfortable after so many games. I’m enjoying it more. I’m mentally prepared and I value this tournament so much because of all the hard work we’ve put in to make it this far. I’m happy with the team’s performance,” he said.
Valverde then stressed the importance of having a strong bond in the dressing room and the valuable advice his teammates shared with him, as he said:
“I appreciate the help from my teammates at this time. They’re always there to support me, give me advice, help me, or give me some encouragement. It was special to score the goal together with them.”
Finally, Valverde pointed out the flaws in Real Madrid’s display and said that the men in white could not afford such errors again.
“We have to fully respect our opponents. At times we were a bit relaxed because of the result in our favour. You can’t let that happen in the final. Now we have to work and rest well to go into the final with a winning mentality.”
Sergio Arribas, Real Madrid Castilla star, came on in the dying seconds of the game but still managed to find the back of the net. It took the Spaniard only 28 seconds to score on the night, and Arribas was more than happy to run the press down with details about his first goal with the senior side.
“The first time I got on the ball it went in. It was a free kick that Alaba crossed and I was there waiting for the rebound. I controlled the ball and hit it across to the keeper. I want to thank everyone who’s with me on a daily basis. I’d also like to thank my teammates because they’ve made me feel very welcome.”
The youngster then talked about how special the event was for him and the fate of the special shirt he wore last night.
“I’ve asked all the players to sign my shirt. It’ll probably be framed with the debut shirt,” Arribas added.
Arribas may see more minutes in the final, especially given that Karim Benzema is a doubt through injury. The forward then spoke about the upcoming final on Sunday.
“The final of the Club World Cup is really exciting. Now we have to enjoy the training sessions, and the atmosphere and go for the win on Saturday.”
The 21-year-old then elaborated on his season with the subsidiary team this season and how he was preparing himself for an eventual promotion.
“It’s been a really good season with Castilla because they’re in second place, two points behind first. I want to thank my teammates on the academy side and Raúl for helping me to develop.
“I hope that we can continue progressing and also myself as a player. Hopefully, we can be promoted to the Segunda División this season.”
Source: Real Madrid official website
Real Madrid maintain full confidence in Turkish starlet despite injury woes
Arda Guler’s Real Madrid stint has not gotten off to the start he would have hoped to have given the expectation that preceded the transfer.
Having joined in the summer after Real Madrid outbid their competition to win him over from Fenerbahce for a 20-million-euro fee, buzz was high as the winger was expected to slot into the team quite seamlessly, albeit on a rotational basis.
Unfortunately for the 18-year-old, he has been constantly marred by injuries since completing the move.
Reports have stated that after Guler picked up his third injury since his move, Real Madrid have been concerned and want to take things slow with the player to ensure he is fit as soon as possible after an injury to his quadriceps this time.
The Turk is yet to make his competitive debut for the club, and Real Madrid even sacked their medical chief in November, in light of their injury crises since the beginning of the season.
No loan deal for Guler
However, according to Fabrizio Romano in a recent YouTube video, he states that Madrid maintain full trust and patience in the youngster.
Despite his bad luck with injuries, the latest of which he is scheduled to return from after Christmas, the Galacticos have no intention of loaning out Guler to Turkish clubs despite lots of speculation of them doing so of late.
Romano states that Madrid remain firm on not shaking things up too much with the squad, and they want to keep their roster stable, including Arda Guler.
They want to extend their full support and protection to the player as he aims to return to full fitness and finally make his bow for Madrid either by the end of this month or in 2024.