Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas says there is enough strength in Los Blancos’ squad to cover any absences in Wednesday evening’s Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, including that of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo will be watching from the stands at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium as he is currently sidelined for an unknown period with niggling knee and thigh problems, while Madrid will also be without young attacker Jese Rodriguez, full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo and midfielder Sami Khedira.
Casillas said it was normal for wear and tear to have taken a toll at this stage of the season, but insisted Madrid had other top players who could come in.
“It is not just Ronaldo, but all the players who aren't available: Jese, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Cristiano,” Casillas said. “But it is not worth thinking about those who cannot play. It is now more about talking about who is there, and the coach putting out the best team to win the trophy.
“It would be great if we could have the whole squad, but because of the issue with the schedule, injuries take their toll at certain points of the season and that is what is happening to us now.”
Wednesday’s fixture recalls the last ‘Copa clasico final’, when Ronaldo’s extra-time header decided a game in which Jose Mourinho’s Madrid side took a typically aggressive approach. Casillas said he would be happy for a similar match this time around.
“The team played a great final [in 2011] and we all want to repeat that,” he said. “I remember that final as a very good game, passionate, between two teams who wanted to win the trophy. We had come from a very difficult season, a painful defeat at the Camp Nou [0-5], and we recovered from that in the Copa final. I would not change anything. We know it will not be easy, it will a vibrant game with great players. But we trust in our chances that we can win this Copa del Rey.”
That Copa final took place amid a tense atmosphere between Mourinho’s Madrid and a Barca side then coached by Pep Guardiola, with club rivalries from the “storm of clasicos” then having knock-on effects for the unity of the Spanish national team.
La Roja coach Vicente del Bosque told AS that he hoped for no repeat of the scenes of three years ago, reminding players that any off-the-ball clashes were likely to be caught on camera.
“There will be tension,” Del Bosque said. “But I would like there to be no conflict. Anyone who does anything will be picked out [by the cameras]. My big hope is that it is a good game of football.”