win the championship. What do you think of that?

We shouldn’t make too much of it. It may even be good for us not to be centre of attention. It is easier to do our job when people don’t consider us to be favourites. We won the previous two league titles and at first it seemed we wouldn’t be able to win one of them. It’s still too soon to know what will happen. We are the defending champions and we’ll do our best to keep the title.

Fernando Sanz is Malaga’s President. You played with him in the past. Do you think you’ll ever have a job like his?

I don’t know… I don’t think so. I can’t picture myself in a job like that.

You recently recovered from an injury. How do you feel?

I feel fine. It’s always hard to get used to training and playing games again after an injury, but I’m getting there. I want to help the team as much as I can. Besides being able to train, the most important thing is to be able to play. Things get complicated when you don’t.

You were injured right at the start of the season, when you were getting back in form. Do you think you may suffer from this?

On the contrary, I think being injured right at the beginning will help me be in better form at the end of the campaign. The season is very long and I hope I don’t get injured again. It’s very important for a player to have continuity on his team.

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What do you expect to achieve this season?

I hope the team plays as well as it did last year. I hope we fight for the league title until the very end of the season and I would like us to do better in the Champions League. That would make us stronger. Defeating tough opponents in the European competition helps you perform better in the league.


HowisRuud van Nistelrooy?
All I can say is that he will not play tomorrow. They’ve run some tests, and as far as I know he isn’t available.

Malaga have been in good form lately.
They were until they played Barcelona, a match in the rain and a very wet pitch. They are a feisty team who can create a lot of danger. This is a league match we have to win to maintain our position.

How do you feel about taking the blame for mistakes made by others?
I don’t see it like that. I have the same responsibility that I had last year. I have complete faith in my team. We may hit some rough patches just like we did last year, but we have to overcome them because this is Real Madrid. There has only been one match we weren’t able to win.

What was it like inside the dressing room after the Juventus match?
As Real Madrid players we are used to winning, and it really affects us when we don’t. The score was disappointing at first, but things change after a few days. We control our own destiny and don’t depend on anyone else. We lost two matches against a good rival, but we are still very much alive. This is all water under the bridge, and now we must think about our upcoming league and King’s Cup matches.

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Are you going to ask for any new players with so many men injured right now?
It’s not necessary. We know it will be hard to find players better than those we have. We will try to get ours healthy again as soon as possible and do everything we can to keep them healthy.

Is it a good time to get another winning streak underway?
It’s definitely what we need. We need to turn the page and start thinking about the league. It’s an important home match on Saturday. This is an important month and we have to win everything to stay alive on all fronts. We can’t dwell on the past.

Van der Vaart has only started one match. Has his output dropped or is it a matter of your game plans?
With Gago and Guti out, we had to play with Diarra, Van der Vaart and De la Red. Things changed when they returned. It’s definitely not a matter of Rafael’s performance. It’s because Sneijder, Guti and Gago are back. Van der Vaart needs to play as an attacking midfielder just as he might tomorrow.

How are Diarra, Guti and Ramos?
Diarra and Guti are perfectly healthy. Sergio couldn’t even get his foot into his boot this morning. It’s very swollen and we need to wait until tomorrow, but we think he will be better.

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Do you think you can get through the season with the three forwards you have?
Let me know if you think you can find a player on the market who can make us any better. I manage with what I have, and I have total faith in all three of them. If we bring someone in just for the sake of it, I’ll be the one to suffer the consequences. We aren’t closing the door on anyone, but we have to make sure it’s the right man for the job.

Do you think the team has hit a skid having lost three of its last five matches?
I don’t think we’re on a skid. It would have been the best match of the season had we won 2-1 the other day instead of losing. I cannot judge a match on score alone. If I take a look at those matches without noticing the score, I don’t think we’ve hit any bumps in the road. I see mistakes, but we have played well. I know the final result is what matters, but I can take other positive elements from each game. We’ve made mistakes in important matches; small mistakes that cost us dearly. Take Almeria for example. We had the game well under control, but we let it slip though our fingers.