NEWS | 05/05/2018"We've rested up well after the Champions League game and are ready for El Clásico”, declared the Whites' boss.
"It's a game in which there are points at stake. The result won't alter the league standings, but we have to put in a good performance and do everything to try and win it. As for the players who are carrying knocks, our approach will be the same as always. If any of them have any niggles they won't play and we've got a lot of players who are available to come in for them. Varane and Isco are fit enough to travel tomorrow and we'll see whether there are any changes to the status of any of the players this afternoon".
"He is a really representative figure within the squad for what he has achieved as a player. He has been here for many years and is our leader and captain. He's an important player in everyone's eyes and right across the game he's a role model in terms of his dedication and how he motivates others. I'm delighted to have been able to share part of Sergio's career with him. I played with him for a season".
"As I said the other day, he's a player that we admire. He's not just any other player. We all know what he's like as a person too. I'll speak to him tomorrow, congratulate him and wish him all the best for the future".
"I'm not going to get involved in this discussion. We deserved to be in the Champions League final for how we've performed since the start of the season. We've won some tough games, as you'd expect us to. We mustn't downplay what we've achieved. The issues surrounding the referees won't change what people think. All we're bothered about is appreciating what we've done. We've fought and put in the hard yards on the pitch. That's what we've done against all of our Champions League opponents".
Fearful of injuries?
"No, not at all. It's not something that I think about, if I did there would be no point in playing tomorrow. We need to play as we always do and try to give our all. If anyone isn't 100% fit they won't play, but the rest of them will".
Guard of honour
"They didn't give us a guard of honour and, with all my respect, we won't be giving them one because they didn't give us one. We have respect for what Barcelona have done, they've won LaLiga, which, as I've always said, is the most difficult thing to do. I congratulate them and that's a show of my respect. It's a personal decision and is nothing to do with the club. I'm not going to break with tradition but we're not going to go and do something that they didn't".
"Let me clear things up on this one. I'm not the one who decides that we won't give them a guard of honour. I'm led to believe that after our Club World Cup win, it wasn't important for them to give us a guard of honour. Some people have said that it was because they weren't involved in the competition, but to compete in the Club World Cup you have to win the Champions League and we're all involved in the Champions League".
Is the guard of honour a sign of respect or ridicule?
"It's neither. I don't want to change anything. I've explained what has happened. There was a tradition in place and it was recently broken. We can't say that Madrid were the ones to break it".
The VAR system
"No doubt there will be more talk of the referees. The VAR system will be in place next season and it's only going to get bigger. We have to accept it because it's the technology that's out there and that's all there is to it. There are some things that I don't agree with, but let's not get into that.
Would not winning the Champions League represent a failure?
"It wouldn't be a failure. It wouldn't have been a good season and it would really be down to the start we made to the LaLiga campaign. Now at the end of the season we're performing as we should. But I wouldn't call it a failure".
"We've got four games left and we'll be looking to do our best because we have to finish as high up as possible. We have to prepare for the Champions League final and the best way to do so is by keeping the intensity levels up in our other games".
Trips to the Camp Nou
"It's just another game, but I'm sure that the motivation levels are even greater in games against Barcelona. Our recent results there have been good, but that can soon change. We want to put in a good performance and try and win".
Benzema and Keylor Navas
"They're both big characters and are good at ignoring the criticism. For me, the best players are the ones that make a difference in the big games. They both did very well in the semi-final. During the course of your career, you have your ups and downs, but they've shown that they can be relied upon at key times".
Significance of El Clásico
"We can't be thinking about injuries and have to show good intensity, which is the best way to prepare ourselves for the final. The LaLiga title is done and dusted for this season and there's less excitement surrounding the game, which is perfectly normal. That's the way of things before the match, but when it kicks off I don't imagine that there'll be any lack of excitement".