Solari iterates his side will not underestimate their Japanese opponents
(Photo: Getty Images/Denis Doyle)

Solari iterates his side will not underestimate their Japanese opponents

Los Blancos coach believes team is fully focused on Club World Cup semi-final clash against Kashima Antlers

Azeem Siddiqui

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has reiterated that his team will not take any team in the ongoing FIFA Club World Cup lightly.

Madrid are due to face Japan’s Kashima Antlers in the semi-final of the event on Wednesday, and Solari, while talking to the media on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, reaffirmed the current European champions are fully focused on their eventual target.

“We give this trophy a lot of importance as to be here, we have to win the Champions League which we did and it was an amazing achievement,” Solari said.

“Now, we will try to win the title here. I think to call any team a minor team is a very European thing but for me, these teams are champions. I think Kashima Antlers are a more experienced team then they were two years back. They are a very quick team and they want to play direct football, which is why Wednesday’s match will not going to be an easy one.”

Talking about the significance of the tournament, the 42-year-old revealed that he is following the competition from a very young age.

“I’ve been following this tournament which was called intercontinental cup since I was 14,” he said.

“I used to skip school to watch this tournament. But now this tournament is more difficult as more confederations are participating, which is why underestimating any team will be a mistake.”

When asked whether playmaker Isco will leave the club in January after being linked with numerous clubs, Solari refused to comment on the development and said his team is fully focused on their next assignment.

“I love Isco as a player,” Solari added.

“We know his quality but as a team, we are focused on tomorrow’s match. My work is to ensure that everyone works at the top level. All of my players give 100% and I see all my players giving their all, which is the most important thing.”

Team unity most important for Real: Marcelo

Veteran left-back Marcelo, during the press talk on the eve of the match, said the team is united and hungry for titles.

“This team is playing together for a long time, which is the key,” Marcelo said.

“We are hungry for titles. We have a big game tomorrow. If god willing we will qualify for the final, we will give our all to lift this trophy.”

Talking about playmaker’s Isco situation at the club, Marcelo said every player goes through bad patches in their career.

“We know Isco’s quality as a player and we know how he plays on the pitch,” he said.

“But maybe you [media] are giving too much importance to this matter which is a normal issue. Players go through these patches normally in their career.”