How can clubs like Real Madrid or Barcelona, whose ownership is shared between thousands of partners, fight against the thrust of the teams sponsored by Russian or Arab millionaires willing to put money without limit? Can they keep their stars?
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern ... are clubs that have a capital that is unique, that is their historic capital. And this can not be bought with money. The titles, European Cups, the trajectory, the history, the fans ... These things can not be solved with money. And the best players will want to be on these teams, these three I mentioned and a few others that have the cabinets full of trophies almost centenarians. It still plays a role in the players. Then you have to be aware that the Financial Fair Play is coming soon. And Platini will impose restrictions and difficulties will be for clubs that are not well structured, even with the box full of money. Logically, the level of Real Madrid, which is my club and I know, the structures are ready for this. Real Madrid has potential and history to keep the best players like Cristiano, Casillas, Benzema, Higuain. Well, all of our staff. But clubs that live exclusively on investment from its owners will not have it so easy, because they will find difficulties to be structured. So the Financial Fair Play will work for the good at football.
In all elite clubs there are three kinds of players: the top-ten worldwide, the middle class and lower class. Not every team can have eleven players of the upper class, but maybe in the middle class structured clubs like Real Madrid can go to the market and compete with the Russians, with the sheikhs. Right there is the problem really?
Maybe, I do not know. Right now the market is changing a lot. Is convulsed. But for example, this week the Russian football, Zenit, has signed Hulk and Witsel for 100 million euros. The players have left two historic Portuguese and continental football teams, Porto and Benfica. They are good players and all we could think is that they would play in the Champions League top teams, but ended up in Russia. Money is still important for football players, but mainly for the middle class. For whoever wins five million euros a year is not going to go if they given five and a half. Now, if a person earning twelve thousand euros per year has an offer about forty thousand, is certainly is going to change company. It is logical, because that changes a life. But depending on what amounts. In the amounts the big stars earns this is not so. Cases of Hulk and Witsel, two of the best players in the Portuguese League, will be repeated in the coming years. But sign a big star player of a historic club champion will not be as easy. It's a new reality to which we must adapt.
Your group of Champions League is made up of four champions. Can you do a quick review of rivals: City, Dortmund and Ajax?
Yes, yes. It's true. There are four league champions, and three of us in the group are champions of the top three leagues in Europe: Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier. Because I think that Calcio is suffering, only Juventus could keep up with the teams that are in the group of Real Madrid. France is growing, but has not yet reached that level. It is a very tough group, of course. And to close the group is Ajax, which is in constant reconstruction but always offers interesting new players, people who want to make a name and give war. Ajax also has titles and the young players defend and carry them in their shirt.
Last week, in Montecarlo, Ruud Gullit said: "It's a group that does not allow for mistakes, even the slightest error"
Totally agree with Gullit. The difference between our group and the rest is that Real Madrid can not afford to neglect. Neither our rivals: City, Dortmund and Ajax. In addition, another issue to consider: the two teams go from our group will not reach the knockout stages of the Champions League in the same conditions as the other 14 that are classified into seven groups remaining. Let me explain. We have to go to win from minute one and all matches of the group stage. With maximum intensity, concentration, pressure. And we will get to the second round with that effort in the legs and head. The other teams will reach fresh and without cards, without penalties, controlling the playing time. With many advantages that we will not have. We will reach the last-16 round with too many efforts, probably with cards, with many minutes played butt, with physical and mental fatigue.
The group stage will not be a walk, right?
It s not going to be easy. But knowing my team, my players, also I have to be honest and say that games of this intensity are easier for a coach. I am reassured to know that Real Madrid has developed a huge competitive rage. And you do not have to tell anything in this kind of macthes. They know they have to be on top and give everything in the Champions League, play well, bad or regular but win. Win from the first minute of the first match against Manchester City at the Bernabeu.
Manchester City is the team to beat?
Well, I'm not so sure. Dortmund is the champion of Germany, is an optimal team is full of international players, many of Germany and the two best players in Poland. They have experience in the Champions League, having an impressive stadium, the fans that support all the way. And about Ajax, you never know, but they can cause an upset. And as there is no margin for mistakes... But yes, Manchester City is mighty for money, players, world-class players. The City is a team made to win the Champions League, made with that intention. The investment they are making every year aims to lift the European Cup. And it's going to be tough. Hard for Real Madrid... but also hard for them because Real Madrid is Real Madrid.
In your dual status as coach and manager, can you solve the problem of Cristiano Ronaldo? If there is problem...
Let me think a few minutes ... Yes, but it is a subject about I should not talk. I will not say anything about this.
Finally, Casillas and Xavi have been awarded with the Prince of Asturias award...
It was one of the good news of the day. I take this opportunity to congratulate the two. A big hug for our captain, the captain of Real Madrid and Spain. I congratulate him with all affection. For Xavi, also my sincere congratulations.