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Marcelino: “Real Madrid attack faster than last year”

The Athletic Club coach spoke to the media ahead of tomorrow’s game

Athletic Club v Granada CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Athletic Club manager Marcelino spoke the media today to help preview his side’s game against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Marcelino spoke about Real Madrid’s style of play, Vinicius Jr, the Balon D’or, and more.

“I might have given Benzema the ballon d’or, but also maybe to Lewandoski, who also had a spectacular year,” Marcelino said. “It is so difficult to establish who is the best that I respect any decision on that issue. But, asking myself about Benzema, he is spectacular because he is capable of both creating and finishing.”

Of course, tomorrow’s game was supposed to be played earlier this season, but was postponed because of the CONMEBOL international games just prior. Marcelino would have rather have not postponed it.

“We accepted it, but we would have preferred to play it when it was time than now,” Marcelino said. “The dynamics that Real Madrid followed then and now are different. We have to continue with stability because we are competitive and difficult to beat. We have lost only two games. Real Madrid only had three days and we had five to play this game, it is a benefit for us, but it is also true that they are used to it and have squad potential.”

Marcelino was then asked about Vinicius Jr, who has been in unstoppable form. How can the Brazilian be controlled on the field?

“The best way to stop him is to make sure he receives as few balls as possible,” Marcelino explained. “He is in a state of grace, at a maximum level of confidence and form.

“We will have to be attentive to help protect the back in terms of spaces and try to give the passers the fewest options. At the same time, when we attack we will have to establish good vigilance because it is a reference in the progression of the game. Vinicius is capable of catching the ball 60 meters from the goal and reaching the area, as can other footballers such as Dembelé — players who by themselves force you to defend in the area.“

Finally, Marcelino was asked about the tactical battle tomorrow.

“We will press high when the ball is close to his goalkeeper, we will have to come to the middle block very quickly and reorganize quickly, and in the low block defend very well.

“Real Madrid this year attack faster than last season. They attract to overcome the first line of pressure and attack the spaces with a lot of rhythm and speed. They have two decisive players in offensive, with goals and progression to the game; a midfield with variety... They are a team that requires great defensive efforts. We have to prepare to channel the suffering from the point of view of effort and attack when we can because they are a team that turns to attack and its two full-backs play very high.”