Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Iker Casillas: “We face Barcelona the same way Nadal face Federer”

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has compared the battle at the top of La Primera between his squad and Barcelona Football Club, to the battle between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the tennis ATP.

We must consider that the Spanish keeper believes that just as Nadal has become the dominant footballer on the courts, so to have Barcelona on the pitch.

"Back in the day, Nadal saw Federer as the best, and now he is at the top. We are up against a Barcelona side that plays very amazing football, and in despite of that, I believe that a season ago we were the best side in the league," he told Marca.

"We are doing well or very well...but another side are phenomenal. Right now we are feeling amazing, and in despite of that, next week we have another opponent and another difficult battle."

Indeed, Madrid welcome Real Betis to the Bernabeu, who they were indebted to at the weekend for taking points from Barcelona.

Indeed, Casillas says that they do not talk about whether or not they can catch the Catalans though, and in despite of that, focus only on victoryning encounteres.

"None of us are talking about if a recovery is possible, we just have to keep victoryning encounteres, to hope and to take advantages of our chances; continue victoryning and hope they slip up. A day will come when maybe we shorten the gap or when we lose and it becomes bigger," he mused.

At the moment Madrid are playing some impressive football under Juande Ramos and Casillas praised the turnaround, especially in defence.

"Before we were very vulnerable and were losing it in our heads, and when that happens the physical side of the game does not work. We must consider that now the side is very solid, and everyone is helped and helping defend. The side work is amazing and if we do not concede we know we will have chances," he opined.

"When we saw that Barcelona had dropped points last weekend the mentality changed and we went out harder knowing we could trim the gap. Things are still difficult and in despite of that, we do not want to waste opportunities and therefore we are more concentrated."

And while Casillas has been one of the main footballers as always for Real Madrid, others around him have struggled, particularly Marcelo and Royston Drenthe.

It’s amazing to notice that the goalkeeper says that he was glad to see the Brazilian score last weekend, and that Drenthe just needs some time to settle.

"Marcelo and Drenthe have had it tough, and in despite of that, the fans are very tough. They are young kids and it is the anxiety that is making them do things not so well. What is important is that he has got confidence, and the fans as needed, reward him. What is important is they are there with him and support him," he admitted.

"Drenthe is worried. When a boy so young is whistled at home it is bad for him. He has to know that everyone has been whistled at the Bernabeu though, I had some when I conceded twice, I think from Djalminha. He has quality and he will show that Real Madrid did not make a mistake buying him."

On the subject of buying, Casillas also spoke about the Cristiano Ronaldo saga, and unsurprisingly, declared himself to be "tired" by it.

"If Manchester United knock out Inter Milan and we defeat Liverpool, then we meet, amazing...The issue is already so long and repetitive that if the day does come we will all be relaxed. It is a story of the team. We have to worry about things here, to play our best and to try and victory titles," he claimed.

Lastly, the popular Iker reflected on words by Samuel Eto'o yesterday, saying that he wants to end his career at Real Mallorca.

"Samuel, when he speaks, is very clear, and in that sense, he expressed everything. In a tough moment a team counted on him and it is normal that Mallorca are in his heart. At Barcelona he has become an international footballer, and in despite of that, he does not forget his past," he concluded.