Abu Dhabi: Spanish giants Real Madrid are “upbeat” but “nervous” ahead of their Fifa Club World Cup summit clash against hosts Al Ain on Saturday at the Khalifa City Stadium, according to coach Santiago Solari.
The UAE Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ain shocked River Plate to progress into the final and are pumped up for their clash against Los Blancos, which starts at 8.30pm.
“We are all very happy, motivated and focused on tomorrow’s match,” said Solari. “I can also say we are nervous. We have a lot of experience in this tournament but we are still a little bit nervous considering the match. And we want to play for a win.”
Solari’s team are looking to complete a hat-trick of titles in the Club World Cup following on their hat-trick of Uefa Champions League titles.
Solari is also worried about the tactics used by Al Ain in the tournament which has influenced the referees’ decision-making at times.
“Yes, River Plate used a lot of wrong tools and Al Ain did a lot of fouls, especially on the sides. There were some Tunisian (Al Ain beat ES Tunis in the quarter-finals) people who were very, very upset. Al Ain also took advantage of it against River,” said the Real boss.
“It is normal for a team to make full use of the tools and sometimes try to hide it from the referee. We will do our most to prevent that from happening tomorrow.”
Solari added he was not surprised by the exit of River as the competition has been fierce and expected Al Ain to play on similar lines.
“Al Ain are going to play the way they are doing it,” he said. “Very solid in defence and trying to take advantage of their players’ speed on attack. They will also look to take advantage of dead-ball situations. Some people also said, they might even try to use illegal means to block our way.”
Solari said that even if they go on to retain the title it doesn’t ensure that their Champions League campaign will be back on track straight away.
“We hope that we can pull off a win tomorrow. This will be very positive for the players because some of these players have been present on three or four Champions League tournament wins,” he said. “However, it is very difficult to happen again.
“Since we have repeated success, maybe people are not giving attention to what we have achieved already. Four Champions League wins in five years, three Club World Cup titles already. Whatever the team has achieved is extraordinary. If Madrid have won so many title then it is because they are giving 100 per cent.”
Solari has led Real to 10 wins in 12 games since succeeding Julen Lopetegui as Real manager, but the team have still faced plenty of criticism for drab performances in the recent times.
Real skipper Sergio Ramos said that they are keen to win as many titles as possible.
“As long as I am at Real Madrid, I want to keep winning titles,” he said. We face Al Ain in the final and we believe we have a chance to win the Club World Cup again. Obviously, we want to return home for the Madrid fans with this title.”
Ramos added the team will display a lot of humbleness on the pitch.
“What they (Al Ain) did against River is history,” he said. “In the end what is prevalent is your physique. The Swedish guy (Marcus Berg) in the attack. They don’t have only three players but we have to treat everyone with respect. We surely want to be the champions.”
Ramos also urged the world to respect Solari as he deflected questions on whether Jose Mourinho could rejoin the club after being sacked by Manchester United.
“Mourinho left us five years ago yet everyone keeps talking about him,” said Ramos. “People need to show more respect to the coach we have now.
“I’m not the person who decides which coach comes here or doesn’t, some people seem to think that the captains decide which coach Real Madrid appoints.”