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Nacho: “I think I’m a starter this season”

The defender also spoke about the penalty incident from Saturday.

Real Madrid CF v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid are back in Champions League action, which means there was a player press conference this Monday and it was Nacho who was selected to speak. The centre-back started off by talking about this week’s opponents Sheriff Tiraspol and admitted that the Real Madrid players don’t know too much about the Champions League debutants from Moldova.

On this match, Nacho said: “It’s an important game for us, although we don’t know much about the opponent since we only just had our game against Villarreal. I think they’re ready to compete at the Champions League level. We have to match their motivation.”

Discussing his own status at the club, Nacho told the press that he does feel like he has become a starter this season. He explained: “We’ve had eight matches and I’ve only missed one and that was due to injury. If you look at those stats then yes, I think I am a starter. But, it’s true that there have also been a lot of injuries. I can better answer this question at the end of the season. I just want to play as many matches as possible and to fight to play at centre-back, which is the position I like best. I can play other positions too and that’s why I’ve played full-back, but the coach knows my best position is centre-back.”

As one of the key members of the back line, no matter which position he’s in, Nacho wants the team to improve defensively. He stated: “We obviously have to improve at the back, since we’ve conceded a lot of goals. But, we’ve not lost yet and that’s important for our confidence. We have to keep working on various aspects.”

Nacho on Real Madrid being big favourites

Anything other than a big win against a minnow like Sheriff Tiraspol will be viewed as a failure and Nacho knows this. But, he isn’t too worried about the label of being favourites, saying: “We have the same pressure whether we’re favourites or not. We also competed well last year, even when we had so many injuries. That gave us confidence to have a good Champions League campaign this year. Real Madrid will always fight to the end.”

Nacho on the potential penalty vs Villarreal

Real Madrid could have been awarded a penalty against Villarreal for a Raul Albiol challenge on Nacho and the Spaniard was asked about this too. On the controversy, he said: “I think it’s a clear penalty, since Albiol arrived late. I thought it was strange that VAR didn’t even take five seconds to look at it. I think the referees are generally good, but I thought this was a penalty.”