After the tie with Almería, it appears that it’s going to be even more difficult to surpass Barcelona this season. There’s still half a season left, but Barcelona were the winter champions, and broke several records.
It’s always difficult to surpass a rival like Barcelona. It will only be easy if we win all the games in the second half. But we have to think positively, because in spite of all that, we’re still alive in all three competitions. It’s true that Barcelona is in first place now, but they’re not that far away. I really believe that by winning all our games, the Liga will be ours.
Will the game against Barça in the Bernabéu be decisive?
No, there’s still a lot to do before that. But it will be a great battle, without a doubt. But first we have to win all the games until then, which won’t be easy.
What did you think of Iturralde’s performance in the 5-0 in the Camp Nou?
It’s a game that’s already been forgotten; I don’t like to look back. It was a bad day not only for one or two of us, but for eight or nine. On a team like ours, that can’t happen, but we have to continue moving forward and learning from these situations. Barça played very well. When we play against them at home, we have to think that things will be different.
Did Valdés commit a penalty against you?
The replays don’t lie. That changed the game, but it’s in the past and I already said there’s no point in rehashing the past.
A person as ambitious as you must be really wanting to return to the Camp Nou with a great performance.
I’m not a spiteful person that holds grudges. It will be an important game. I don’t know if it will be decisive, but I don’t see it as an opportunity for revenge.
You have 23 goals in 19 games. Will you be able to keep up this incredible pace of 1.21 goals per game?
I don’t know, it depends on a lot of things. I’m motivated. Whatever happens, I’m going to do my best and if I get the Pichichi, great.
What do you think when you are described as a “footballer from another epoch” and compared with Real Madrid legends such as Di Stéfano or Puskas?
It’s a tremendous honor to be compared with players who are legends. But it’s still too early, since I have a lot left to learn and improve, and a lot to do in this club. But it’s a privilege, and it gives me extra motivation to continue working and wanting to become better each day.
You’re about to turn 26 and it’s obvious that you take good care of yourself. How many Ballon d’Or trophies will you win? Mourinho said four or five…
I like winning Champions Leagues and Ligas, not Ballon d’Or trophies. If I win another, or two or three, I would be happy, but my priority is to win titles with Real Madrid.
Which player has been an example for you?
It’s impossible to just name one; there are a lot. I always see the great players as good examples for children. I had a lot of idols when I started, and I always fixated on them: Rui Costa, Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo… I always wanted to be like them. Thanks to God, I’m creating my own space, my own history, in Manchester, with Portugal and here in Madrid, and I hope to contribute to the history of this club.
Imagine that you are Florentino Pérez, and you can sign a forward for next season without having to worry about the cost. Who would you bring out of Llorente, Kun and Torres?
It’s very difficult, since it depends on the money, the contract, etc. Without having to worry about money… Llorente is a great player, Mourinho likes him and he has the characteristics that we’re looking for. Kun is a very fast player that can destabilize anyone, and Torres is very good as well. I don’t know.
Last week, you made a very ugly tackle against Ujfaluši. Do you think it was a bit too much?
I was going for the ball, but I tackled him instead. How many tackles do I receive over the course of a game? Seven, eight? So when I make one, why is it a big deal? It’s not fair, is it? I do get angry sometimes, that’s true, but on what basis do others have of accusing me of tackling others when I receive a ton myself during games?
Do you feel that it’s unfair when you tackle someone and it becomes a huge issue?
Yes. The rivals pressure the referees, I don’t know why. I ask myself why this happens, because I don’t understand it. Here in Spain, I receive a lot of whistles when I’m on the field. My friends tell me, “Cristiano, off the field, they love you, they ask you for photos and autographs, but then on the field they want to kill you!” I don’t understand it.
It must be difficult then to stay calm.
Yes, sometimes it’s very, very difficult. But you have to be mentally prepared. Top players should also be “top” on the mental level.