Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez feels Real Betis would work hard to make life difficult for the Los Blancos ahead of the Beticos’ trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Spanish giants drew their opening game of the La Liga season away at Sporting de Gijon and would be looking to win their first home game of the season. The Spaniard was bombarded with questions regarding Gareth Bale and his position in the side. The 55-year-old also commented on his side’s failure to break the deadlock in the opening day clash against Sporting but refused to comment on the David De Gea saga.
I’m focused on the match and not the market – Rafael Benitez
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, as quoted by Real Madrid’s official website, Benitez said:
a Pepe Mel knows this ground and Spanish football. He understands the importance of doing well in the Bernab u. I’m expecting them to set up like Sporting, they’ll be eager to do well. They have great fans and will be highly motivated to give a good account of themselves and get a good result. We are expecting a hard working opposition side, one that will run itself into the ground and not make life easy for usa .
When quizzed if Real Madrid had their squad finalized for the season, Benitez refused to comment and insisted that his main focus was the impeding clash against Betis.
a I’m done answering these types of questions. We have a game coming up against Betis and that’s what matters most. I’m focused on the match and not the market. I want the team to be in good shape tomorrow and for things to go well. We have a very good side, a number of players have left and that will strengthen those still here because they’ll play a bigger role in terms of the team’s performance now. The Betis game is my prioritya .
a 25 players is the limit. Twenty-one outfielders and three goalkeepers is a good number. The squad is in good shape. We’ve evaluated what we have and the reason behind some players leaving is that we believe that those we have here can cover every position. In football luck and injuries also influence things. We have a good squad and we’re not paying any particular attention to the market, we’re just trying to get the best out of this group of playersa .
“Having Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema, Jes … in your forward line is a blessing”
When questioned about the criticism of record signing Gareth Bale, the 55-year-old blasted the Spanish media for blowing things out of proportion. Benitez also expressed his satisfaction at having players of the ilk of Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Jese to choose from.
a I understand that there are a lot of media outlets and they have to come up with stories. That means blowing a small story into a big one. At the moment with Gareth it appears that having a pacey player, with a good shot, who can put defenders off balance and can do so many things well is actually a problema .
a Having Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema, Jes … in your forward line is a blessing, not a problem. That these debates get started really surprises me. We are the side that had most shots on goal on matchday one. If shooting on goal more than anyone else is defensive, then I’m completely lost. Attacking is looking to cause damage to your opponent. That’s what we did. It wasn’t defensive, it was attack minded, although we did lack precisiona .
He, however, failed to specify the exact position that Gareth Bale would occupy this season.
a A coach has to manage a very talented group of players. The positions are what they are, there are eleven places. I think Bale is a fantastic player, just like the rest of his team-mates. Each of them has their own attributes and qualities. I have to manage the group so that we can win games while juggling the players around. I have to manage the dynamic of the groupa .
a I can’t guarantee a player’s position or place in the team for the whole season. One of the things I stand by is the freedom of the front men. If I restrict them to a position they say it confines them. If they have freedom to roam the say it becomes confusing. I’m managing a group of players for the whole season. I make mistakes on occasion but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum and get the best performances out of the team. I ask the supporters to be calm, we’ll play with intensity, we’ll score goals, we’re confident and we know what we have to doa .
When asked to share his views on the De Gea transfer saga and Louis Van Gaal’s latest comments, Benitez refused to comment on it.
a Just as I show respect towards players from other sides, I also do the same with other managers. I have no right to talk about Louis van Gaal. I’m focused on my own squad and I’m not prepared to talk about thata .