It has been an excellent start to life back in LaLiga for Levante, who have already claimed four points and who are unbeaten, but they face one of the biggest challenges of the whole season next as coach Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz takes his team to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
He has not won against Real Madrid in his previous four meetings with the team from the capital but is still excited for the game.
You’ve returned to LaLiga and have a win and a draw so far. Has the start to the season been positive?
“There are a lot of positive feelings, but it’s important to accompany those with points and we have done, with four from two matches. The team has played and worked well, so we should carry on as we have been because the idea is to be consistent and to play each game as if it were the last. Sometimes that will be enough to win and sometimes not. It is a difficult league with good teams and good players and we are trying to stay in it.”
Now that the transfer window has shut, are you happy with your squad?
“As coaches we have to be satisfied because we are privileged. The sporting department do their job and have difficulties to overcome to sign players. With a lot of suffering and hours of dedication, the coach cannot go against them. We are all pulling in the same direction and each person has to try to work in the best way possible, while nobody can doubt the ability of the others. I am very satisfied with my squad, as they work hard and will fight to meet our objectives.”
Is it possible to come away from the Bernabeu with any points?
“Yes. It is a nice game for a footballer and we will try to avoid being there just to make up the numbers.”What do you need to do to win at the Bernabeu? “Work hard, take chances and not get distracted because this opponent punishes that. We must reduce their skill and our mistakes and then try to make them uncomfortable. We know their strengths, but that’s not enough. We now need to go out on the pitch and give all we have.”
What have you made of Zinedine Zidane and his impact at Real Madrid?
“He seems to me like he’s an excellent professional and somebody who is very polite. In a sporting sense, he has already shown this, as he is a person who has won so many titles and who managed a dressing room as grand as the one Real Madrid have. I cannot make opinions but simply admire and respect him. Because there is no place for opinions on coaches who have won so many titles.”
Is it better or worse for Levante that Cristiano Ronaldo won’t play?
“Real Madrid have a squad that doesn’t need one particular player to play. They have 22 players and each one of those who play do so at a high level.”
If you could take one player out of the Real Madrid team who would it be?
“I wouldn’t take any player out of an opposition lineup, but try to make sure that our players have a clear plan. Zidane will be happy with his team and I will be happy with mine.”