INTERVIEW | 11/02/2018“We will have to play exceptionally in both games if we want to progress”, stated the defender.
Raphaël Varane spoke to UEFA before the knockout tie against PSG. The Whites defender takes a look at his time with Real Madrid so far as well at the game against the French side, the first leg of which takes place this Wednesday (8:45pm CET) at the Santiago Bernabéu: “will be a frenzied clash between two huge teams, the little details can prove decisive. We will have to play exceptionally well if we want to progress. We play at home first and will need the support of our fans. We will give our all because they are so proud of our football”.
Let's talk about the PSG tie. How do you set about playing this kind of match?
It's special, obviously because I'm French, they’re a French club and it will involve travelling to France. But it will be a frenzied clash between two huge teams. They have some impressive players and I'm sure we'll see two thrilling games. We have enough experience to know that the little details can prove decisive.
Almost everyone looks at the PSG front line. Tactically, how do you play when you have to be aware of so many players?
They are a very strong team. Football is a team sport and, for me at least, PSG have a really united front. Like us, they have players capable of making a difference at key moments in the game. We must defend all together, we always d that. We will have to keep our focus at all times. Together we can stop PSG.
How important is it that you’re playing the first game at the Santiago Bernabéu?
We’re playing at home and we will have the support of our fans, who will surely give us extra motivation. The club’s history will be with us and we will have a great atmosphere. We will do our best to make our fans proud of our football and what we do. The second leg will be decisive because, as we have seen in recent years, some teams manage to get out of adverse situations. We will have to put in two flawless performances if we want to qualify.
The first Champions League title you won at Real Madrid was against Atlético in 2014. What are your key memories from that final?
It will always be one of my favourite memories in my footballing career. The Champions League is a a huge competition and, when you are lucky enough to play in a final and win, the emotions are indescribable. It was glorious and I will always have those good memories.
In 2017, you won the title again. How was it, being the first to retain the trophy?
It was wonderful. It is a very difficult feat and in the modern history of football no one else had managed it. I think we still have yet to come to terms with it. Maybe that'll sink in with time. It's something exceptional, tremendous. This year we have the chance to break another record and that is an extra boost.
What would it mean to win the Champions League title for a third season in a row?
It would be amazing, truly fantastic. No club has managed that yet. We have a good team and I think we’re capable of doing it. This club has a very special relationship with the Champions League. It is a real ambition of ours. We know it will be very tough going, but we are driven and have the capacity to do it.
You’ve won three Champions League trophies and you're still young. What else do you want to achieve?
I'm lucky, I've won 14 titles already in my career. Winning makes you want to keep on winning, I still have that drive. I really want to push on and win more titles.
You are one of Real Madrid's most loved foreign players. How does that make you feel?
I feel honoured. This is a special club, challenging and tough at times. The fans welcomed me. I felt practically like a player who had come up from the youth team. I try to give as much as possible back to the fans giving the best of me and trying to get into the mind-set of the club values. I want to be like those legends that were part of this club before. It is very nice to have spent seven years here and I hope to stay for a long time.