Carvajal: 'Real Madrid don't lose the finals'

Carvajal: ‘Real Madrid don’t lose the finals’

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Dani Carvajal spoke to Tomas Roncero of AS. The Spaniard reflects on Real Madrid’s great season and his career.

If we had told him when he was younger that he was going to win five Champions Leagues and start in all these competitions..

Yes, I think that’s a fact that only Karim (Benzema) and Luka (Modric) can share with me. I feel very proud to have helped the team in the five by being in the starting XI. It says a little more about the difficulty of being at the top of your game at this club and staying a starter for so many years. It’s like Marcelo, Sergio (Ramos), Iker (Casillas), Raúl… Players who have been starters for so many years, with the demands that this shirt requires, it’s something to be valued.

Can you explain what happened in this Champions League?

We had a good group stage which was complicated with the loss against Sheriff, but we got through the rest well and we were first. We expected a more favorable draw than the one we obtained. In the end, it was PSG. This playoff marked everything. In the first leg, we weren’t good. We almost didn’t shoot on goal. The best was the result, a defeat by the lowest score. In the second leg it was the same, we lost the match with two goals against and well, the magic of the team, the pressure from Karim to force Donnarumma to make a mistake…. We all saw that window open, to engulf us. We realized, even the youngsters, who hadn’t experienced those Champions League nights, what the Bernabéu is capable of. Against Chelsea, we had a great home and away game, they had nothing to lose. These are the toughest matches to play, with opposition at the top and you don’t want to take a step back. We didn’t approach it in the right way. And against City, imagine that. Magic. In two minutes to force extra time and already there, in extra time, we knew we were going to pass for sure….

You gave the assist to Rodrygo on the 2-1, which allowed extra time.

Yes, it is clear that in the end we all did our part. Those who played more and those who played less were the key to this group. Everyone who entered contributed. You could see him from the bench. Against Chelsea, I found myself in the position of central defender. It was a bit of an unprecedented defense. We finished the match with David (Alaba), Lucas, Marcelo and myself. There weren’t even the three in the middle, Casemiro, Luka, Toni. It also testifies to the importance and quality of our team.

Along with the Cardiff final, the Paris final was his best match for Madrid. You canceled Luis Diaz. You have played at 150%.

I did very well the last part of the season and I wanted those four Champions League finals and those four titles to weigh on him, of which it was the first final. I wanted to be close to him, I know the danger he can represent and I think I beat him for a large part of the match. This is where the key was a bit. In defensive duels, we were far superior in many game details. And the performance of Thibaut, who saved us several times.

How to win the last eight finals without fail?

I think it’s more what our opponents feel than what we feel. We are going to do it. We know that, even if we are very bad and it is not our day, we will have our chances and that, if we continue to insist, we will be rewarded. The rival is influenced, he knows that he has Real Madrid in front of him, and Real Madrid does not lose the finals. In Paris, the team scored the goal and played a practice game. We know what we have to do at all times, that they were going to leave spaces and that is the key: to manage the tempo of the match correctly to win the cup.

Last season you were only able to play 15 games due to injuries, what has changed this year when you have played almost 40 games?

Thanks to the nutritionist, I was able to see that gluten was not beneficial for me. Also specific supplements, depending on the month of the competition. Rest well too. I work with the physiotherapist. The mental work too, in our matches, like the final or the second leg against City… My level of excitement from previous years was too high and that makes the muscle need more oxygen, more blood and in the end it weakens him. Overall I can say I’m happy with my performance and I’m liberated. From time to time, I can receive a few blows, but this negative spiral, I can say that I got out of it.

No one talks about signing right-backs anymore. He succeeded in dispelling this idea. It’s not easy to own a job at Real Madrid.

It’s never easy, especially when your performance isn’t what you expected. The club want to strengthen their squad and it makes sense that they try to sign youngsters. The years pass for everyone and the club is doing a fantastic job. With Vinicius, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Asensio on his good day… With everyone. They sign experienced people like Rüdiger or David (Alaba), who arrived for free. Or like Tchouameni…

It is Ancelotti who is responsible for all this. What makes him like a second father and has this affinity with the group?

In terms of the group, he is a leader, a point of reference for all, each time he speaks, everyone awakens their five senses to listen and understand him. He manages to find harmony between those who play more and those who play less, he tries to understand everyone, he was a footballer and knows that not playing is not an ideal situation. He’s a great coach and he knows how to approach games, but he stands out for the way he treats the players.

Real have won La Liga, the European Cup and the Spanish Super Cup and yet their style is still in question…

You know why ? When one team wins and the others don’t, few understand that the rival was better in that sense. In the end, in football, the winner is not the one who shoots the most on goal, nor the one who has the most possession, nor the one who makes the most passes in the opposing half of the field, nor the one who makes the most thrill the spectators, the winner is the one who scores the most goals and concedes the least. We have been the best in this area, but not only this season. The fact that we have won five Champions Leagues in the last nine editions shows that if you play badly and just win, you don’t win five Champions Leagues in nine editions. You must have something else. All opinions are respectable, but I’m talking about the inside, that we probably have one of the best teams in the world and that magic, and that belief, that strength, or as Guardiola said recently, “Real are losing by two goals and the ball doesn’t burn the feet of any of their players…” Not everyone can brag about that.

Let’s talk about Karim Benzema. No one doubts that he should win this Ballon d’Or.

Nobody, no other candidate is close behind him. Not just what he helped us achieve, which was a very important part. In a high percentage, it was he who led us to success: the goals he scored, the assists he gave… Anyone who has seen Karim play has no doubt that the Ballon d’ Gold is his.

Do you think this year we will finally see the Chelsea Hazard who was a world top 5?

I think so. When he has overcome this problem, also mentally. When he gets into a rhythm game after game he will be an impressive player as he has shown for so many years. And the team we’ve put together shows what a good person he is. He went through a hardship, but he came to Valdebebas, did his job and never winced. Not everyone can say the same.

And finally, you settled into the national team with Luis Enrique. Do you think we can dream for the World Cup in Qatar?

We are very, very excited. The coach managed to create a core, a group of 50 players. We want people to hang on and believe it again. In the last European championship, we reached the semi-finals. We missed the final on penalties. It will be a beautiful, atypical World Cup. At Christmas, in winter. I place Spain among the five or six candidates for victory.

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