Santiago Solari has described Real Madrid as having a “fantastic, humble squad” following remarks from Cristiano Ronaldo about his former employers.
Ronaldo, who switched from Real to Juventus in July, spoke about the clubs in an interview published by Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday, saying the Italian outfit felt “more like a family” than the Spanish one.
He said: “I can say this (at Juventus) is the best group I’ve ever played with. In other teams some players feel bigger than others, but here they are all on the same level, they are humble and want to win.
“For me it is beautiful and I can feel the difference. Even in Madrid they are humble but here, even more so. It is very different to Madrid – it is more like a family here.”
Real boss Solari gave a response to that at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League Group G clash with CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu.
According to AS, the 42-year-old told the press conference when asked about Ronaldo’s comments and if he would say he had a humble dressing room: “Humility is a virtue that top players need, and at Real Madrid we’ve got a fantastic, humble squad; they’ve shown that.
“When it comes to every one of the values bound up in sport, this is a top group of players.
“Cristiano will always be special to this club, he went down in its history, and it’s not down to anyone to judge the way he feels; that’s something personal.”
Since losing 3-0 at Eibar in LaLiga in their first match with Solari as permanent boss, Real have played four times in all competitions and won on each occasion.
They are fourth in LaLiga, five points behind leaders Barcelona, and go into Wednesday’s contest, their concluding Group G fixture, having already guaranteed top spot in the pool.
Solari said he had no preference in terms of potentially winning LaLiga or the Champions League, stressing he would like both.
And he added: “I’d also like to win the Copa del Rey and the Club World Cup. Every competition merits our complete attention and should stimulate our competitive spirit.
“I’ve never been one to pinpoint a competition; I like every one of them, and we should be aiming to challenge for them all.”
The Champions League title-holders face a CSKA outfit who are fourth in the group but can still claim the third-placed finish that will take them into the Europa League, and who beat Real – still managed by Julen Lopetegui at that point – 1-0 in Moscow in October.
CSKA’s boss Viktor Goncharenko said in quotes on their official website, when asked what had changed about Real since Lopetegui’s sacking: “If we talk about Real, it is in any case a very high level. It is clear that we must do everything possible.
“With regard to changes, then, probably, now more young players have appeared.”
He added: “Without faith in yourself and your team you can’t go out on the pitch. It is clear that we came here with hope. Hope dies last.”