Dani Carvajal: “Real Madrid will fight for everything!”
Dani Carvajal sat down for an interview with MARCA and discussed his injury, the team’s dip in form, his contract extension and the reasons behind Real Madrid’s lack of consistency.
Q. How is the injury going?
A. I’m doing much better [after] my entire internal ligament broke. The estimated time of recovery was ten weeks. This Friday, I will be six weeks out injured. I’m doing quite well, I’m doing ball work. I’m doing more intense things and hopefully now after the international break I’ll be available for the coach. Now, there’s a bit of feeling my leg, when I hit the ball, and when turning.
Q. Did you get scared when you injured yourself?
A. The truth is that I did because it was a bit of a strange movement, my leg went forward, my body backward and I heard a click. You expect the worst. During the MRI scan I prayed that it was not a very serious injury, a very long one and taking into account what a knee injury can be, it was a slight thing, which even made me feel good. It was a relief.
Q. Surely a footballer will suffer more when he is out, when he sees his teammates playing and when he cannot help?
A. You have no idea. When you are out you suffer tenfold. In the end, you can’t do anything to help the team and it’s a bit unnerving. Being on the outside cannot be compared to playing.
Q. And even more in situations with a lot of tension, like the one now, in which each game is like a final.
A. It is clear. Now all the games are very important and they are every three days. The blows in the Champions League in the first two games force us to win, without having that margin of error in the group. And you know in LaLiga, Barcelona are fine, Real Sociedad are leading, Atletico Madrid are doing very well. You cannot neglect yourself. There are 38 games, but in the end, you have to try to add three points at a time in every match, because teams do not forgive you.
Q. Does it cost a lot to maintain consistency? Is that perhaps weighing down the team a bit?
A. That’s what I think. Each coach and each team seek to have that positive consistency, but it is not easy. In the end, injuries emerge. A team like Real Madrid have many internationals and in October and November there are three more national team matches, which in the end are trips, games, and training.
You have almost no time to rest and you have to get back into the dynamics again for the next game. It’s complicated. Also, this year there was no pre-season preparation and it is difficult this year to maintain consistency, especially due to physical fatigue, but more because of mental fatigue.
Q. Is everything around Real Madrid magnified? From beating Inter, to losing against Valencia and they are already talking about everything. How do you analyse it from the inside?
A. Anyone who has been here for a few years gets used to it. In the end you can beat Inter in a highly contested match and lose to Valencia, against a good rival, away from home. We didn’t have our day, but sometimes you can’t win every game and it seems like we’re in crisis and they put us all up in the air. In the end you have to get a little used to these ups and downs, these ups and downs of feelings, criticism and flattery, but try to stay focused and seek to achieve the goal of consistency.
Q. Are there fewer doubts in the team that outside?
A. Yes. We’d fight to the death with the coach, with the club, with the teammate we have next to us, and the philosophy of the coach is that we are as one, that we all go in the same direction and he has done so during all the years that he has been here.
Q. There’s also talk about your rivals who are also struggling. Perhaps Atletico Madrid are having a better season, but they also lost in the Champions League. No team is dominating like in previous years such as Real Madrid or Barcelona, right?
A. No. There are a lot of games and it is complicated. In the end you go to the Champions League, after the break, for example, we have to travel to Italy and the following week to Ukraine, you have to go to Seville… They are very demanding matches and every three days. It is difficult to win everything. Teams that aren’t playing European competition have a whole week to prepare for a match, they can rest and can better analyse the opponent.
Q. But the bar of the requirements at Real Madrid is always very high, not even the smallest failure is allowed.
A. Totally. I’m not saying this as an excuse, far from it. It is simply that it is not easy to maintain consistency with such demanding matches every three days. Discomfort also emerges, injuries too. But as you say, we have depth in the squad and what we have to do is try to get to all the games and fight for every title.
Q. What does the team lack in order to have a higher level of consistency?
A. We started with a surprise against Cadiz at home, but I think the team is reaching its highest level of the season. I think that we are all in good physical condition and I hope that now from November and December we will have two, three good months. We are all going to get better.
Q. Is that enough to compete for everything?
A. Our idea is clear. We are going to fight for the three titles and for a fourth like the Spanish Super Cup we have in January, so we will go for it all.
Q. You laid the first stone at the training centre in Valdebebas. I imagine you will like to put the first symbolic stone at the new Estadio Santiago Bernabeu too. To be there, to continue at Real Madrid many years later.
A. My closest friends know. For me it is something very special to be able to have enjoyed the old training ground, enjoy the new one, enjoy that old Bernabeu and the new one. I think it would be something nice and something that not many people can brag about.
Q. And it’s close to happening because of your contract extension.
A. We are dealing with it alongside the club. I am now here until 2022 and we are talking about improving the contract, but it is not an easy situation. In the end, with the whole situation we are experiencing, it is something complex because it is not the main thing. The club are not having good times financially, the stadium cannot be opened, and it is something difficult for an entity that makes a lot of income through these means.
The contract renewal for the moment has to be left a bit on the sidelines with the focus on playing and trying help the club. In the end, it is not an easy situation for the management. The situation is tough, but I think the fans have to be hopeful for the team. We are the reigning LaLiga champions.
Q. How can the fans be reassured that Real Madrid are still there? That they are not as far from the top or at such an abysmal distance as it sometimes seems?
A. I understand that in these last two weeks, which I have experienced from the outside, it’s complicated to see the team not winning every game, but today everything is much more even, all the teams work a lot in terms of fitness.
You give any LaLiga rival two metres and they will put the ball where they want, but we have to reassure the fans. We are Real Madrid, we have a very good squad and don’t doubt us because we are going to fight for everything and in the month of March you will be happy because we will be in every competition.
Q. I see you as being optimistic, right?
A. Yes. I am optimistic because of what I see and what I feel. I’m not dodging the issue. I think the team is very committed, all the players, all the coaches feel they have the support and are backed by each other.