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Valverde, Ceballos react after Real Madrid’s Club World Cup triumph: “It’s been a long road”

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Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

The FIFA Club World Cup is often dismissed as an easy competition for the European Champions. However, one forgets that in order to reach there, a club has to get past the very best sides in Europe.

Real Madrid may have enjoyed a relatively easy route to the trophy, but one forgets the numerous jaw-dropping storylines they had to create last season in order to get there.

Midfielder Dani Ceballos stressed on this very point when he faced the press after his side won the silverware, saying:

“It’s a trophy we’ve been working towards for a long time. It began last year at Inter and it’s been a long road. Winning the Champions League and these two games.”

After missing the semi-final through injury, Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema returned to the starting lineup against Al-Hilal and even scored a goal on the night. Ceballos has nothing but praise for the striker, and said:

“Karim is our star player. He inspires us. He plays so well in tight spaces and having him with us today was a turning point.”

Federico Valverde won the silver ball for his phenomenal run in the two games this week. He was only behind Vinicius Jr as the best player in the tournament.

When asked about his accolade, he humbly said that the team’s victory took precedence over his individual accomplishment. It was a special day for the midfielder as it was revealed that he and his wife are expecting their second child.

“It’s a great day for me and for all the Madridistas. I’m happier about the other news. You realise that other things are more important, football is a job that you want to do well and you also want to perform well for the club,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Uruguayan International confessed that winning the silver ball would do a world of good to his confidence and spoke about the various factors that kept him motivated.

“This is going to be good for me in terms of my spirit. I felt comfortable in the last match and I also enjoyed it. Today I tried to have a good time, I had already heard what my wife said to me and it lifted my spirits a lot. It’s a great day for me and for all Madrid fans,” he added.

Carlo Ancelotti gave Valverde a target to score ten goals this season, thereby pushing him to be his best. On Saturday, the midfielder crossed that benchmark and even scored his eleventh goal of the campaign. Valverde ran the press through the emotions in his head and the special hug he shared with Ancelotti after scoring.

“Now I have to keep going, I can’t relax. It was a big thing for me. In that hug with Ancelotti, I showed a lot of things. Last season I didn’t start with much continuity and he, with a few words, some advice and on a day-to-day basis, helped me to finish the season well,” he said.

“Today I am the player that I am thanks to him and he helped me a lot to get through this rough patch.”

Finally, the 24-year-old spoke about the importance of keeping up the steam at a club like Real Madrid, especially given the heavy competition he must endure.

“I have to continue in this vein. When things aren’t going well for you, you can’t go down and when they are like today, I can’t just stick my chest out and say that I’m the best. I have to keep contributing as much as I can, even if it’s a small amount.”

Source: Real Madrid official website

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid convinced with 21-year-old loanee’s performances, will count on him next season

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Photo via Getty Images

Real Madrid are eager to enhance their options in central defense after deciding to not sign any defenders in the recent January transfer window.

Several players are on the club’s radar, with Lille’s promising center-back Leny Yoro most notably high on the club’s wishlist.

However, the Merengues are not turning a blind eye to their homegrown academy gems, as Rafa Marin is making a strong case for himself to join the first team dynamics next summer.

Rafa Marin strengthens his case

The 21-year-old is presently on loan at Alaves and is showcasing solid performances in the heart of defense, with Real Madrid reported to count on him next season.

Now, AS have reported that the reason for the club’s trust in Marin is his upsurge in performances at Alaves. And if Nacho Fernandez leaves, Marin will serve as the fourth central defender in the squad.

A testament to his worth to Alaves is the fact that Marin has not been benched since mid-November, demonstrating his importance in coach Luis Garcia Plaza’s defense.

With 2,282 total minutes played, he ranks as the fourth-highest on the team with the most minutes.

Against Atletico Madrid recently, Rafa Marin enjoyed a stellar outing. In addition to making 15 recoveries and 9 interceptions, he took part in 24 defensive actions. Along with winning two ground and four air duels, he only committed one foul.

A stellar performance vs Atletico. (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

An important summer for Marin

Not only is Rafa Marín returning to Real Madrid, but he is also going to represent Spain in the Olympics in Paris.

Marin was included in five of the six matches during the Euro Under-21 qualifiers because coach Santi Denia of Spain’s under-21 team greatly values his presence and height (1.91 meters).

Marin has a bright future ahead of him if all goes according to plan. His season with Alaves is sure to serve as a stepping stone for his integration into the Real Madrid first team.

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