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    Euroleague20:45Real MadridvsBaskonia


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Rafa Benítez

Benítez: "If we're not focused, Shakhtar will be tough”

NEWS | 14/09/2015 | Javier García

"There's always room for improvement, but we're on the right track", he said.
Rafa Benítez offered his thoughts ahead of Real Madrid's opening Champions League fixture of the campaign at the Santiago Bernabéu. The coach assessed the current shape of his side and looked ahead to the match against Shakhtar Donetsk: "They're an excellent team. I said that it wasn't going to be an easy group. They have a coach with a lot of experience who gets the best out of his players. They have players with ability, speed and quality. If we're not focused and underestimate them, they'll be tough".

"They're a team that I'd compared with Galatasaray, a side with quality players who can make life very difficult for you when they're on their game. They're going to be very tough opponents. We're Real Madrid and we're playing at the Bernabéu. The challenge is to start our Champions League campaign and do so on a positive note. We'll look to put in a good performance, so as to get the win and give the fans plenty to shout about". 

Defensive improvement
"The key is the attitude shown by the players; they are the ones who have to solve the problems. We simply provide them with guidelines. There's always room for improvement, but we're on the right track and the players' attitude is very good. We have to carry on in this vein".

"Rotating the team isn't something done on a whim; it's there to maximise the potential of the squad. There'll be times that we get it wrong, but we'll try to do that as little as possible. There are players who need to be rotated more than others. It's not the same for a wide player, who has to cover more ground, as it is for another player. Each player is different and puts in a different level of exertion. We always look for the best team to win each game".

"You rotate depending on the general impression that you have. My backroom team and I have information at our disposal, though I believe more strongly in the impression that you have, and you assess the situation. You ask the player, and they almost always tell you that they're fine. Your general impressions come first, then you ask the player and then you look at factors such as medical and physical data. Within the information that you have, you need to focus in on the most important information".   

Starting goalkeeper
"I still haven't spoken to the goalkeepers and I can't announce that in my press conference. All three are working really well and whether one plays or another plays isn't a problem. Tomorrow we'll decide who plays".

Areas for improvement
"There's some of the decisions we make when we attack or counter-attack. We have to keep on polishing our defensive play. The players' attitude is really good and that brings me peace of mind. A team with cutting edge in attack and that defends better and better will be a stronger and stronger proposition".

"He's a magnificent player. He has to carry on doing what he's doing, work hard and make the most of his quality to score the odd extra goal. His contribution in terms of effort and quality is important to me, and if we can achieve an improvement in front of goal then that'll be beneficial".

Attacking movements between Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo
"We work on the tactical side of things in training, in matches they have freedom up front and they use their talent to put together attacks. We talk to them about the movements that each player makes and we stress the importance of there being a coordinated series of movements. Bale brings speed and penetration. Cristiano drifts inside. And that balance with Karim Benzema, Isco, and Marcelo joining in the attack... It creates a lot of danger for our opponents". 

We'll look to put in a good performance, so as to get the win and give the fans plenty to shout about.

"When I took charge of the team, I saw a lot of talent up front. I said that we were going to be an attacking team. I'm not going to diminish anyone's attacking potential. If you shackle a team up front, you deprive it of its talent. The talent is there and you have to give it a degree of freedom. Achieving a balance between the players isn't easy, but when they interpret the game well they're a devastating team in attack. I try to ensure that they achieve coordination between each other as much as possible". 

"He's an excellent player; one of the best that I have coached, of course. I can't say that he's the best, because I've had some very good players, but at this moment in time he's our player and he's the best in the world. I wasn't lucky enough to see Alfredo Di Stéfano live, but he was a winner and a fierce competitor. Raúl was a fierce competitor and a winner too. Cristiano has the same mentality. I'll be very happy if the team wins and Ronaldo wins a lot of trophies with the team".

Giving players a rest
"There isn't a rotation policy. Maybe we'll rotate some of our players, maybe we won't. There are games that take more out of the players than others. We have a quality squad that we have to make the most of. If we find ourselves in pole position in a game, like the other day, and we can take off Luka Modric, we'll do that. If I could have taken off two or three more to protect them the other day, I would have done that. We use all the information at our disposal to make a decision".

Champions League pressure
"I don't feel pressure. I feel the challenge of winning every match, not one competition or another. If we approach games with that mindset, we'll win trophies. The Champions League is the most important, but I also really like La Liga and the Copa del Rey".

Players who can come in for Marcelo
"I like my players' commitment. Dani, would you play at left-back? Danilo, Dani Carvajal, Nacho and Álvaro Arbeloa can play there. They're not naturally left-footed, but they can all do that job and, if needed, they play in that position in training".

More goals from Benzema and Isco
"I'd like them to carry on doing what they do well, which is linking up with their team-mates, and on top of that add goals more frequently. Every player has a role and should do well the things that he does well, and if possible add other things to that, such as scoring goals".