Casillas: Move on from UCL pain
Iker Casillas has called on Real Madrid to focus on May 17's Copa del Rey final with Atletico Madrid, not agonise over this week's Champions League semi-final exit to Borussia Dortmund, or wonder about which players and coach will be at the club next season.
The aftermath of Tuesday's ultimately fruitless 2-0 second leg win over Dortmund at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu has seen Madrid fans and pundits reflect at length on just how close their side came to another historic remontada.
There has also been widespread speculation that Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is set to replace Jose Mourinho as Madrid boss this summer, with Gareth Bale, Marco Verratti and Marouane Fellaini arriving to replace departing players including Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Xabi Alonso.
As he was honoured with a 'Gold Medal' by Madrid's regional authorities for his services to the city on Thursday morning, Casillas reminded his club's fans that they still had something to play for this season, particularly the Copa final against city neighbours Atletico at the Bernabeu later this month.
"Everything has already been said [about Tuesday's game]," he said. "Now we must think in the most immediate objectives, to try and get as many points as possible in La Liga, for the club, for the team and for the fans. And then fight in the final of the cup of his majesty the king, which will be a different final, a nice game, at the Bernabeu. We must try and win it in front of our fans, who deserve that joy."
Asked about the future of Mourinho, with whom he has rarely seen eye to eye in recent months, the long-serving goalkeeper was less forthcoming.
"You would have to ask him about that," he said. "What I am interested in is Madrid fans having things to celebrate. This year it could have been the Champions League, but now what is left is the Copa del Rey."
Wednesday's sports papers in Spain had all carried a photo of Casillas consoling a distraught Sergio Ramos at the final whistle of the previous night's game. The Blancos club captain said he had been proud of the effort put in by all his colleagues, even if they were disappointed in the end.
"I saluted all my team-mates because they had made an immense effort, and the fans recognised that," he said. "Sergio, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Di Maria, Diego Lopez, and with everyone in general. They had my congratulations because we had a chance to go through right up until the end. I know Sergio for nine years, and I believe he played a great game, deserved ten out of ten."
With Bayern Munich having easily seen off Barcelona in the other semi-final, another season of talk in Spain about a clasico Champions League final had again been premature, Casillas admitted.
"We all spoke about it no?" he said. "The media, everyone, said it could be an all-Spanish final. It happened last year too. In the end it was not to be. The Spanish teams will fight, including Madrid, so that next year we will have a chance to reach the final, and win our tenth European Cup, which is what all madridismo wants."