NEWS | 09/03/2015“We expect a highly motivated Schalke side that will be difficult to beat”, explained the central midfielder.
“They won't be straying too far from the tactics they employed in the first leg. They'll be looking to position themselves well defensively and then as the minutes tick by they'll have to push a bit forward as they have to come back from behind".
"We'll have chances and I believe we'll score, especially as we're playing at home. Schalke will be giving it their all, they'll be looking to make a fresh start in the clashes against us. We are expecting a highly motivated rival who will be difficult to beat”.
Champions League final in Berlin
“It would be extra special given that it's in Germany. However, where the final is played is secondary to me. The important thing is getting that far”.
The reception from the team
“I got a great welcome from my team-mates, both on and off the pitch. You always feel a lot better when you're also comfortable away from the pitch. They knew they were signing a good player, they had watched a lot of my games. I was coming from another big club, where people had faith in my qualities as a player and where my team-mates weren't nervous about passing the ball to me and they knew what I was capable of”.
“That is the main source of my confidence at the moment and, on top of that, I am playing with very good players here, which makes it easy to be understood and enjoy yourself. And when you are enjoying yourself on the pitch, things almost always work out well”.
“At a club like Real Madrid the goal is always to win everything and that is the short-term aim this season. In the long term, for the length of time I'm here and until my contract expires, I'll be looking to win titles with this club and to also play an important role”.
Evolution as a player
“My playing style has become more commanding over the last few years, which has something to do with me dropping back a small bit in terms of my position. I used to play as an attacking midfielder. I dropped back a bit under Guardiola and now, on occasion, I play as the sole defensive midfielder. That involves having more time on the ball because the play is built up from the back”.
Comparing the leagues
“The Spanish and German leagues are of a very high standard. Along with the Premier League, they are probably the best. There is a bigger focus here on the footballing aspect of things. In England and Germany perhaps there is more of a focus on the physical side of the game, in breaking down the opposition's play, especially against the lower placed sides. But the level is extremely high both here and in Germany”.