Abu Dhabi: Real Madrid may be without Cristiano Ronaldo at this year’s Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, but their mentality remains the same and they won’t dwell on the past, according to Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos.
“I don’t think you’ll see much of a difference on the pitch,” he told Fifa.com of changes to the squad from last season, namely after Ronaldo’s summer switch to Juventus, and coach Zinedine Zidane’s departure following three straight Champions League wins.
“We’ve got quite a similar team, despite losing Cristiano, who was a very decisive player for us. We’ll compete with the same approach that the club has always taken. Winning is always the objective — that’s the club mentality.”
Real play Kashima Antlers in the semis at Zayed Sports City from 8.30pm on Wednesday for the chance to meet either Al Ain or River Plate in Saturday’s final (at the same time and venue).
This would be their third straight Club World Cup title, seeing them pull ahead of rivals Barcelona for the record of most wins with four.
Having beaten San Lorenzo in this competition’s final in 2014, Kashima Antlers in 2016 and Gremio last year, Ramos added that experience was key but no guarantee.
“The Club World Cup is a reward for your success in the previous season. It gives you an opportunity to confirm your standing by becoming world champions, and it’s a wonderful experience.
If you believe it, you can do it. We have a fantastic team and we must trust ourselves, while giving our opponents the utmost respect, obviously.
“We’ve got some really nice memories of it, because we’ve been successful on previous occasions.
“All these things do play a role. Real Madrid have a great history behind them, but you can’t dwell on that too much because the badge alone doesn’t win you matches. Each time things get a bit tighter, but there’s no doubt that experience is very important, and we have a lot of it.
“It’s a short competition and there’s no margin for error. There’s a semi-final and then a final, and we want to bring the Cup back home.
“If you believe it, you can do it. We have a fantastic team and we must trust ourselves, while giving our opponents the utmost respect, obviously.”
In 2014, Ramos won the tournament’s best player award, something he said he cherishes to this day.
“It’s my favourite due to the award I received, sure, but also for how it all panned out.
“I was lucky enough to score a goal in the semi-final, but then I got injured. It seemed like I might not make the final, but in the end I took some painkillers and was able to play, and on top of that I scored again. The team won, and the truth is it’s a very special memory.
“Individual accolades are always pleasing, but the collective mentality always outweighs any personal aspects. I’d much rather the team won,” he added.