Arda cautious ahead of Madrid derby
Atletico Madrid’s Turkish midfielder Arda Turan will be happy to be playing against other Turkish players in his first Madrid derby, but has little hope that his side will be victorious.
“Real Madrid is one of the best teams in the world and we will be playing on their ground,” Arda told Anatolia news agency ahead of Nov. 26’s La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. “We will do our best but, frankly, victory will be a surprise to us. Our job is really difficult.”
With Arda in the Atletico squad and Hamil Altıntop and Nuri Şahin playing for the home club, the match will be the first Madrid derby to feature Turkish stars on both sides. The 24-year-old said it would be fun.
“We always talk to each other and make jokes about the situation,” Arda said of the Turkish players in Real squad. “It will be a very fun game for us. To play in such a beautiful stadium in such a nice atmosphere is an honor both for us and Turkey.”
Arda is used to playing in front of hostile crowds thanks to his experiences in Galatasaray-Fenerbahçe derbies, but he said it was not possible to compare Madrid derbies to ones in Istanbul.
“The derby is only about football here, whereas the situation in Turkey is much different,” he said. “But of course, both are thrilling challenges.”
When asked about his first interview after signing with Atletico, in which he said his “dream is to score against Real in this jersey,” Arda said scoring in a major derby was everybody’s dream. “It is a difficult goal to fulfill, but I will do my best.”
Statistics back Arda’s reluctance to talk about a victory in the Madrid derby. Atletico Madrid will be on the pitch hoping to find a victory against bitter city rival Real for the first time in more than a decade.
Claudio Ranieri was the last man in charge at the Spanish capital’s second club to savor victory over Real, overseeing a 3-1 triumph in 1999 in which former Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Although his side’s chances of causing an upset appear remote, with Jose Mourinho’s Real flying high at the top of La Liga and on a run of 12 straight wins in all competitions, coach Gregorio Manzano was in a combative mood in an interview published recently in As sports daily.
“Playing attractive, open and joyous football does not help you in the slightest if in the end you don’t achieve your objective, which is to win,” Manzano said. “That’s what we have to do. No joyous, open or attractive play,” the 55-year-old added. “We have to play a closed, ugly, harsh game, not devoid of quality but not being little sisters of pity either.”
Known in Spain as “the professor,” Manzano has had a troubled start to his latest stint in charge at Atletico, with the club down in ninth place in La Liga and its notoriously impatient fans growing increasingly restive.
The team has sparked into life on occasion but has yet to find the consistency that could see them challenging for a qualification spot in the Champions League for next season.
Manzano said Real was starting to gel more as a team in Mourinho’s second season in charge and was relying less on swift counterattacks.
“This season Real Madrid has improved in the way they apply pressure in their opponent’s half,” he said.
“To build a team you need sufficient time, to adjust the pieces so that everyone becomes part of one machine. What we want at Atletico is to have this time to fit all the pieces together.”
Compiled from Anatolia news agency and Reuters reports by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.