Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Players must be mature from a football standpoint to know what is at stake every day"

Despite recognizing the appeal the Champions League draws, Manuel Pellegrini doesn't consider winning the competition the only objective of the season.
What does the Champions League mean to you? 
We all know how much attention the Champions League draws, but playing every Sunday is also very important and the league is crucial to Real Madrid. There is even more incentive to win the Champions League with the final being played in the Bernabeu. It won't be easy. There are many good teams but we expect to get off on the right foot on Tuesday.

Will Pepe make his season debut?
He played well for his national team and he participated just as much as anybody during the preseason. He is on the squad list , so we will see who plays.

Will those who started on the bench against Espanyol get the start against Zurich? 
We will see what lineup we go with on Tuesday. It's obvious that if they didn't play it was so that they could rest, so it is likely that they start.

Will the team that starts against Zurich be more star-studded than that against Espanyol?
No, that is something the press makes up. There is not a more star-studded lineup. We have 23 playes and we need to play one match at a time. I make my decisions over the course of the week while taking many things into consideration.

Will you continue rotating players in the Champions League as well?
There is no preconceived plan. There don't need to be rotations in every match, but as they start accumulating it is impossible to put in the same players. It isn't just a matter of physique, but about everyone being at the same level. 

Is it more dangerous to have a great squad or the desire to win?
We are building a good team and we have to play our best against every opponent. We have respect for Zurich and I am sure they do whatever it takes to win.

Is the fact that Real Madrid hasn't made it past the Last 16 in recent years significant?
It is a bad statistic for a team like Real Madrid. My major concern is that it doesn't happen again.

Is winning the Champions League the main goal of the season?Not for me. It isn't more or less important. Players must be mature from a football standpoint to know what is at stake every day. Tuesday we have Champions League and it is what matters most,  but it doesn't mean we can lose on Sunday. The final in the Bernabeu adds some incentive, but I believe we are ready to play matches one at a time. The goal is to win all three titles.

What is Zurich like?
I have seen a few of their games and they appear to play offensively. They have some strong forwards, so on Tuesday we will see how we can stop their weapons and use ours.

Is it easier to prepare for a relatively unknown team like Zurich or a team like Milan?
Right now, Zurich. We must focus on the next match. We cannot be thinking about any other opponent.

What differences are there between the Guti-Lass duo and Lass-Xabi Alonso?
It is important to have variations. We design them with respect to the skills each player offers. Don't forget about Diarra and Gago, who also play an important role.

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