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Dani Carvajal: “Real Madrid don’t think we are favourites against Osasuna”

The right-back also spoke about refereeing and Vinícius Júnior

Real Madrid Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Ahead of Saturday night’s Copa del Rey final against Osasuna, Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal spoke to the press about the importance of the game, while also denying the tag of favourites.

Dani Carvajal was adamant that his team are facing a tough challenge as he said: “We don’t think we are favourites. Osasuna have earned their place here. Even with a rotated team, with one player fewer, they played very well against Barcelona.”

“Watching the quality that Osasuna’s coach has and their history, including their slogan, to never give up, a bit like ours, we internally think it will be a tough game and we have to be prepared for anything, focused 100% because they will push us to the limit.”

Carvajal on the occasion of a final

The final is Real Madrid’s fourth of the season after the European Super Cup, Supercopa de España and Club World Cup, but Carvajal is not short of motivation, explaining: “At the start of the season we said we wanted to win every title possible. It was clear that the Copa was getting away from us, every club goes for it and is excited by it. I couldn’t tell you why we haven’t got to the final for a while.”

When asked to compare it to a Champions League final, he added: “Honestly, you can tell there’s a different atmosphere. We have players who have never won this title and are desperate to win it. You can tell the difference between this and a Champions League final. We’re training today and we want to win the cup.”

Carvajal on 2014

When asked about his last Copa del Rey final, Carvajal admitted that this will be his last Copa del Rey final, in 2013/14, has stayed with him as it was his first title with Real Madrid. He explained: “I remember my first title with some special emotions, nine years ago, and now we’re very excited to take on this opportunity. We are calm, we know it will be a very demanding game and will do all we can to lift the cup.”

Carvajal on facing Osasuna and then Manchester City

With Manchester City coming up on Tuesday too, Carvajal didn’t shy away from the importance of the two fixtures: “We have two weeks to decide our season, now that the league has become very complicated. That starts tomorrow and we have a difficult rival, we have to try to win and focus on this game and winning every title we can, starting with Osasuna.”

Carvajal on his form

The right-back has been in great form in recent weeks, but he was quick to play down claims that he was at his best, pointing to the importance of consistency as he said: “All players, all sportspeople, have good and bad times and right now I think I’m quite plugged in. In our dressing room, we have a lot of players who are used to this kind of game, they’ve shown that and they’ll continue to show that for a long time.”

He further underlined that, adding: “I try to do my best all year long. It’s true that in these few months I’ve been at my optimal level and it’s born fruits. I think we have to be optimistic and understand that not everything is a rose garden in football. When I talk to my friends and family, we always agree that work has its reward.”

Carvajal on referees

Amid much controversy about referees in the build up to this final, Carvajal recognised his own room for improvement as he reflected on his behaviour on the field: “I’m one of the players who goes to the referee, maybe I should do it less, I’ll try to correct it. We are all people, we all make mistakes. As you say, the other day it cost me the first yellow card and it cost us the game. They always try to do their best, and we try to push them and want the next foul to go our way, and we try to talk to them. What Thibaut said, I think referees try to do the best they can, I don’t think they have anything pre-meditated before a game. I think they should protect playing football, speed and playing, against teams that try to destroy, in footballing terms with fouls, infractions and provoking the opposition.”

Carvajal on Vinícius Júnior

One of the stars of this final is likely to be Vinicius Júnior. The Brazilian comes into the game in excellent form and Carvajal labelled him one of the team’s top players, saying: “I’m going to be honest with you, at the start you could see he would be a star, but he was under huge pressure. It became a meme, that he didn’t score, that he could dribble but couldn’t shoot, but having that at such a young age, and now he’s one of the best three or four players in deciding games and tournaments. He’s worked on his physical and mental shape and he’s earned everything that he is now.”

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