Real Madrid always play to win, insists Casemiro

By Sports Desk January 16, 2019

Casemiro insisted Real Madrid always play to win following their second-leg defeat to Leganes in the Copa del Rey last 16.

Madrid lost 1-0 at Leganes on Wednesday but still stumbled into the quarter-finals of the competition 3-1 on aggregate.

It was a disappointing outing for Madrid, who carried a 3-0 advantage into the return fixture, however, midfielder Casemiro said the Champions League holders set out to win every match amid their struggles in LaLiga.

"We lost the game but qualified, that's what we wanted. If we talk about how we played, we lacked depth in the first half but got better in the second," Casemiro said afterwards.

"We controlled the pace, their fans were boisterous but we had the game under control. We know there are no easy games, now we are concentrating on the weekend.

"We always play to win, we are not in a good place, let's be honest, but we're working hard. We're in the Champions League last 16, a bit far behind in LaLiga and now we're into the next round of the Copa del Rey. Now whatever happens we just have to win, regardless of who we face."

Out-of-favour playmaker Isco was handed a rare start by Madrid head coach Santiago Solari but he struggled to impress at Butarque.

Amid uncertainty over Isco's future, Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez said: "He's a very important player for Real Madrid and continues to work hard to get back out there and display the confidence we all need, he's got the backing of the whole squad. We need Isco to be at his best, and the same goes for all of our players."

Leganes became just the second team to beat both Madrid and Barcelona this season in all competitions, after Levante.

Mauricio Pellegrino was sent to the stands during the win, much to the frustration of Leganes' coach post-game.

"Apparently he kicked me out because I made the gesture of a pair of glasses," Pellegrino said. "But I never did it, it was an unfair expulsion.

"I'm very bitter about this. I just told him it was a penalty."

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    Ramos was present at the ceremony after being named in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11 for the 10th time in his career, but he would prefer to swap any individual accolades for team trophies, with Madrid having won only the Club World Cup last season.

    "I'd prefer to not come here and for Real Madrid to win titles," Ramos said following the event at Milan's famous La Scala opera house. "If I'd wanted to win individual titles, then I'd have dedicated myself to tennis.

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    There were some surprising choices in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11, a line-up of the best players of 2019 as voted for by fellow professionals.

    Ramos, Marcelo and Luka Modric, the winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player prize in 2018, were included despite difficult campaigns for Madrid in 2018-19.

    The inclusion of Marcelo was particularly questionable, the Brazil full-back having lost his place as undisputed first choice at the Santiago Bernabeu over the past year, starting just 21 LaLiga games last season.

    "He's one of the best in the world," Ramos insisted when asked about Marcelo. "Everyone is free to comment. It's hard to please everyone."

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    - Needing to bolster their defence, Juventus could make a move for Paris Saint-Germain full-back Thomas Meunier in January, according to Tuttosport. A deal could include midfielder Emre Can heading to Paris.

    - Previously linked with Manchester United, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to renew his contract at Lazio, according to Il Messaggero. The deal, to be worth €3m per season, will reportedly be done by December.

    - Mario Mandzukic is still unsure about his future. Tuttosport reports clubs in Qatar are still trying to sign the Juventus striker, but the Croatian may instead wait for a move to the Premier League in January.

    - Italy youth international Sandro Tonali is catching the eye at Brescia. AC Milan and Manchester United are monitoring the 19-year-old midfielder, according to Calciomercato.

    - Staying at Milan, Calciomercato says the Serie A giants are still looking at PSV forward Donyell Malen. The 20-year-old Netherlands international has scored seven goals in six Eredivisie games this season.

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    With three wins from five in LaLiga, Madrid are level with leaders Athletic Bilbao on 11 points.

    Hazard, who has made just two league appearances this season after a thigh injury, said there was always pressure to deliver at Madrid and the playmaker is confident of success.

    "When you play for Real Madrid you have to win every game, that's how it is, that's why it's the best club in the world, because you always have that pressure," he said on Monday after being named in the FIFA World XI.

    "But we have a quality team. It was difficult but we won at Sevilla, a stadium where it is never easy.

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    Madrid host Osasuna on Wednesday before a derby clash against Atletico three days later.

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