I asked coach Alberto Toril and right back Lucía Rodríguez one question each. Here is how they responded:
Q (Toril): A Clásico is always important for Real Madrid and so are Champions League matches. But the reality is that winning against Barcelona is very difficult. What is the importance of these matches in your mind and how do you manage them in relation to the goals in the league? For example, key players like Maite, Kenti, and Ivana did not play vs. Atleti but played vs. Barca in the following match.
Alberto Toril: It’s a good point that you make. It’s very complicated for us. We’re competing a lot every three days. We have to manage the minutes well and consider what possibilities and characteristics each player can give us and how that matches up vs. our opponent’s system.
We always have to pay attention to the match in front of us while also keeping in mind the match that comes later, because we cannot forget that our day-to-day is the league, as that will give us the ability to achieve our objectives [to qualify for the UWCL]. To be here in the UWCL is a prize. We are competing against the eight best teams in the world.
Q (Lucía): Barcelona’s press is one of the most challenging things to face. As a fullback, what are the things you are thinking about and executing to retain possession and progress play?
Lucía Rodríguez: The pressure Barcelona exert, such as in the counterpress or on a goal kick, is one of their greatest strengths. In my position, we have to try to solve the situation, combining and changing wings quickly so that they don’t accumulate players to close down spaces.
Here are Toril’s and Lucía’s other responses to questions from the press:
On Asllani’s physical status
Toril: In the case of Asllani, she has not had any regularity and has an injury that will not allow her to be available tomorrow.
On how Madrid will come out to play this game
Lucía: We will come out with a lot of confidence. The streak we’re on has helped us a lot. We have a very good dynamic.
Toril: We come into the match with a good dynamic and fantastic sensations. We’ve grown with time and have a good base. We face a good team with a good trajectory but it’s the Champions League. We are excited.
It’s an elimination game not just for 90 minutes but for 180 minutes. We want to make them uncomfortable. We know they can score in any moment. We are going to have to be united in closing their paths of progression, which they use to generate scoring chances. Barcelona leave a lot of space to their backs and that’s how we will hurt them.
On Madrid’s good run of form under Toril
Toril: We’ve been on a good trajectory, getting better and moving up the standings. [Our UWCL qualification] depends on us now. We’re going to face our next matches with a desire to achieve our objectives. The UWCL game is a huge one. It’s our first time in the competition. It will be a day to enjoy and to compete to our maximum.
On how the players prepare psychologically for the daunting task of playing Barcelona
Lucía: These matches motivate us a lot. Psychologically, it’s very easy to prepare because it’s the quarterfinals of the UWCL. This helps us compete more and reach our maximum level.
On Claudia Zornoza’s importance
Toril: Zornoza provides a lot of variety to our play and interprets what the team needs in each moment very well. Her capacity to generate situations to escape pressure helps us progress. She assumes a lot of responsibility and is an important and decisive player.
On the challenge of dealing with the quality of Alexia Putellas
Lucía: We are conscious of the level of Barcelona’s players and we are aware of how good Alexia is. We have to be able to work as a team to limit Barcelona’s strengths because, while Alexia is great, every Barca player has great qualities.
On dealing with Barcelona’s firepower on the flanks
Lucía: We know that Barca is a very good team with great players. Many of them are on the wings and have virtues there, but their game is not only based on that. We have to know how to counteract them and make ourselves strong in those situations to try to nullify their strong points.
On Madrid’s performance vs. Barcelona in the last three matches
Toril: We are facing a good team. Every time we play, it’s a chance to get a little closer to Barca. In the last three matches, we set up well in our defensive block. In the first league game, we were able to get back into the second half on the scoreboard. In the Super Cup, we only lost the match at the end. In this last league match, we competed until minute 40.
Here are what Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez and central midfielder Aitana Bonmatí had to say about the match, courtesy of Marc Andrés i Sanz:
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Zornoza es una de las jugadoras más diferenciales. Condiciona nuestra presión, porque tiene la capacidad de recibir a la espalda de nuestras delanteras con muy buen pase. Aun así, en Liga, tanto Jenni, como Aitana y Alexia hicieron un gran partido defensivo".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Jonatan Giráldez: Zornoza is one of the most differential players. She influences our press, because she has the ability to receive behind our forwards. Even so, in the league, Jenni, Aitana, and Alexia had great defensive performances.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Hablando de las bajas, hay pocas opciones de tener una convocatoria más amplia de cara al partido de vuelta".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: Speaking of casualties, there are few options to have a broader squad for the 2nd leg.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Por como planteamos los partidos, sabemos que una gran importancia de lo que pase depende de nosotras mismas. Pero no podemos partir pensando que la eliminatoria está hecha".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: The way we approach the games, we know that a lot of what happens depends on ourselves. But we can’t start thinking that the tie is done.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Los resultados hablan por si solos al mirar el cambio que ha hecho el Madrid con Alberto Toril; nosotras lo sufrimos en primera persona en la Supercopa. Preparar este partido requiere mucho esfuerzo por nuestra parte para saber hacerles daño".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: The results speak for themselves when looking at the change that Madrid has made with Alberto Toril; we suffered it firsthand in the Super Cup. Preparing for this match requires a lot of effort on our part to know how to hurt them.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Irene Paredes, igual que el resto de jugadoras de la convocatoria, está disponible. Es cierto que viene de una lesión y hay que estar pendiente de su participación en juego".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: Irene Paredes, like the rest of the players in the squad, is available. It is true that she is coming back from an injury and we have to be aware of her participation in the game.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "Si analizas el partido de Supercopa y el de Liga, en cuanto a volumen de ocasiones estuvimos muy parejas, pero en el de Liga pudimos acertar en marcar goles y obligamos al rival a abrirse un poco más".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: If you analyze the Super Cup match and the league match, in terms of the number of chances, we were very even, but in the league match we were able to score goals and force the rival to open up a little more.
️Aitana Bonmatí: "Los Clásicos son más especiales. El objetivo mañana es ganar y sacar un buen resultado. Y el reto a largo plazo debe ser ir avanzando en esta Champions".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Aitana Bonmatí: The Clásicos are more special [than other games]. The objective tomorrow is to win and get a good result. And the long-term challenge must be to advance in the Champions League.
️Jonatan Giráldez: "No cambiará nuestro planteamiento que sea una eliminatoria. De inicio no cambia nada porque nuestra intención es ganar el partido. Jugar un partido tantas veces implica cambiar muchas cosas para ser más imprevisibles".— Marc Andrés i Sanz (@MAndres_15) March 21, 2022
Giráldez: This being a two-legged tie won’t change our approach. Nothing changes because our intention is to win the game. Playing a game so many times means changing a lot of things to be more unpredictable.