Abu Dhabi: Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas is expecting a tough test when his side arrive in the UAE for the Fifa Club World Cup next week.
“People think the Club World Cup is an easy competition, but it’s not,” said the Costa Rican, whose side will play in the semi-final at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on December 13.
“There are teams from leagues that might not be as strong, but that doesn’t mean to say they don’t play as well or that they can’t make life difficult for us. We’re very much aware of that and we know it’s not easy. That’s why we take every game as seriously as we can.”
Traditionally the Fifa Club World Cup has always been a two-horse race between the best European and South American sides but, since 2010, two African teams, Congo’s TP Mazembe and Morocco’s Raja Casablanca have made the final and, last year, Japanese hosts Kashima Antlers took Real Madrid to extra time before eventually losing 4-2. This shows teams are getting closer.
“There are a lot of matches that can really go against you or where things don’t work out the way you expected them to. We never lose our confidence or faith though,” said Navas. “We always believe in each other. We didn’t know that we’d end up beating Kashima, but we did absolutely believe that every one of us was going to give it their all to make that happen.”
With a poor start to the current season — their worst since 2008 — Real will be even more at risk of an upset this time around.
“Every side goes through a tough patch at some stage or other of the season and ours has come at the start,” he added. “The talent, commitment and confidence that we have both in the coaching staff, and in the team as a whole, will help us to keep looking forward and pushing for silverware.”
Tough patches have also hit Navas personally, with criticism being levelled his way, but he said he, like the team, had to get on with it.
“Nobody likes it when people say bad things about you, because we’re all human beings and we have feelings. Ultimately though, I always try to make sure that my happiness doesn’t depend on what people say but on what I feel in my heart. When I’m having a tough patch, I always try to focus on good things.”
With four titles last season — in Real’s best ever year — and another two so far this season, there’s plenty of positives to draw upon.
“It’s been a really great 12 months for me, I’m always going to remember it.”
Winning the Club World Cup would be another pick-me-up at an important stage of the season, however.
“It’s an extra source of motivation for us and a really nice challenge. We really value it because we know how hard it is to get this far and because it gives us the chance to enjoy lifting another trophy.”