Saturday, September 12, 2009

"I could easily come up with a great starting lineup with any of these players"

Manuel Pellegrini talked to the media about the team's game tomorrow in Barcelona against Espanyol.

All the internationals are back except Gago. Are you worried about the state of mind of men like Benzema, who wasn't a starter with France, and Ronaldo, who may not play in the World Cup?
It's important for us to get the entire group together as soon as possible. All of my players have returned with important physical and emotional strain, but it's nothing to worry about. Regarding Benzema, all I can say is that each coach decides who should be a starter on his team. On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo is fighting hard to be in the World Cup, just like many other teams and players are. These things don't alter their state of mind.

Big teams normally have a hard time in their first games after international fixtures have taken place. Do you have to do extra work with the players?
It's complicated because they return when there's little time left for the match to take place and they are hardly thinking about the league. This squad has to try to win every game. We will play seven or eight games in September. It'll be the same in October. The best way to deal with this is to have a devoted group of players.

Did it bother you that Pepe arrived at training before Ronaldo? Will you make players pay a fine for failing to show up on time?
Punctuality is important, but there won't be any fines or punishments. There won't be any problems regarding this issue because what happened was just a small mistake.

You will play a game every three days. How will you rotate the team?
I think every team with a large number of internationals and a tight schedule will have the same problem, not just Real Madrid. We'll have to look at each game at a time and talk to the players to make sure they recover well. The method we'll use will depend on the circumstances we face.

Would the players that stayed behind in Madrid during the stoppage be enough to come up with a strong lineup?
I could easily come up with a great starting lineup, worthy of the level demanded at Real Madrid, with any of the players on the squad.

Have you worked on improving in defence, particularly in set pieces?
We are constantly improving on how to defend or score from set pieces, and other aspects of the game. We've worked on al this this past week and we did so too in the preseason.
Espanyol's Nakamura has said he will try to score against you from a distance...
Each Espanyol player will do what coach Pochettino tells him to. I met Nakamura when I faced Celtic. I hope he does well in La Liga.

What changes will you make?
Rotations will not depend on each line. We would all llike to have a core team, but that's rather impossible due to international games and the heavy load of fixtures we will have this season.

Will Sergio Ramos travel to Barcelona?
Sergio Ramos is still doing preseason work. I hope he is ready to perform well next week. We aren't going to hasten his recovery because we don't want him to get injured again. I believe he will play the following Sunday.

Will you try to counterattack on Saturday?
I don't know what Espanyol will do. We will try to win from the start. We will face a good opponent. The match won't be easy.

Is Raul also a useful player in away games?
Every player is useful to us both in home and away games.

Will you showcase a different style in midfield?
I think you've got the whole concept wrong. We have several alternatives in the position thanks to having Lass, Xabi Alonso, Diarra, Guti and even Pepe on the team. We built the squad to have each position well covered in case there's a problem. We are just looking for the best way to deal with this campaign.

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