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Rüdiger: “We can’t just defend the three-goal lead, we also have to please the fans”

The centre-back was once again chosen for a player press conference.

Real Madrid CF v RCD Espanyol - LaLiga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

For the third time in eight Champions League player press conferences this season, Antonio Rüdiger was the one chosen to speak to the media. Given that the German centre-back already gave two press conferences earlier this term, there wasn’t too much new for the journalists in the room to ask him that he hadn’t already answered before.

Of course, he was asked about the second leg against Liverpool and described the squad’s mentality as so: “We have to start the match better than we did in Anfield. We can’t sleep for the first 15 minutes, especially against a team like Liverpool. They have a good attacking team. They played a big rival like Manchester United and scored seven. We need to find the balance between attacking and defending. That’s very important to us. We can’t just defend the three-goal lead, we also have to please our fans.”

Rüdiger on last year’s Chelsea second leg

Real Madrid almost gave up a first-leg lead against Chelsea last year, and Rüdiger was in the English team. Reflecting on that, he said: “Last year it was very hard to play in the Bernabéu. The turnaround of Real Madrid was incredible. When you play against Real Madrid, it’s hard.”

Rüdiger on adapting to Real Madrid

Discussing the first three quarters of his first season at the club, he reflected: “I think it’s not easy to play here, because of the history there’s a lot of pressure. But, you learn and grow. I learned a lot of new things, like I had never seen so many people in my first press conference here. Everything is bigger here, with respect to my previous clubs. People like Florentino Pérez are huge names, but humble.”

Rüdiger on Real Madrid’s defence

With Real Madrid having conceded in 28 of 41 matches so far this season, it hasn’t been a particularly good year defensively. On that, the centre-back said: “Of course, when you concede goals you get criticised, but at the end of the day we have to improve on that. We are on the way to doing that.”

Rüdiger on the youngsters in the squad

Asked about how he tries to be a leader for the younger players in the squad, the German replied: “There are good kids here, it’s easy to share the experience with them. They want to learn. They’re very easy to handle. I just see myself as someone who can help young ones. It’s not being a good leader, it’s being a good teammate.”

Rüdiger on Vinícius

On Vinícius specifically, Rüdiger was asked if the winger needs to focus more, even when he is being kicked and fouled repeatedly. He replied: “It’s a 50-50. Of course he has to focus on playing, but it’s also hard when you get kicked and provoked so many times. He’s still young and learning. The referees have to do a better job with him also.”

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