By Roberto Morales
Madrid, May 26 (EFE).- When Manchester City went two goals clear of Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal, Rodrygo looked at the team’s badge and thought to himself — ”we can do it again.”
His dramatic last minute brace against the English side — topped off by Karim Benzema’s extra time penalty — sealed the team’s spot in the Champions League final against Liverpool this week and boosted his status as a Real Madrid savior, having also come on to score against Chelsea in the previous round.
The 21-year-old sat down with Efe to discuss the attacking threat of Mohamed Salah in the upcoming final, his relationship with Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and, of course, the recent media frenzy over Mbappé.
EFE: Thanks to your goals, you’ve come to be known as Mr. Champions League, how do you explain your special relationship with the competition?
R: It’s a really special tournament for me, where things work out. I’m really happy about that and I hope to improve each day in the competition.
EFE: It’s your first final, do you feel nervous or under pressure ahead of the game?
R: This week there have been nerves, I’m anxious because the moment of the final is here. It’s my first and it’s normal. My teammates have told me they were nervous before their first final. That’s what I’m feeling, good nerves because I want to play.
EFE: What does it mean to be a player for a Real Madrid that never gives up?
R: It’s something that truly cannot be explained. Truthfully, I don’t know how it happens. When Manchester City scored, I looked at the badge and thought, we have made a comeback twice (before), we can do it again. It was crazy to score two goals in two minutes. There is no explanation but what is obvious is that the fans played an important role, because they helped us a lot.
EFE: Everyone is talking about that one question mark Ancelotti has for the final — play Fede Valverde or Rodrygo.
R: I’m not worried, obviously I would like to start the game, but helping the team is more important. It’s the coach who will make the best choice, whether Fede plays or I do. I have a lot of trust in Fede, he is a great player who helps us a lot. And that’s why I’m here, to help out, whether I come on later or start, I want to help Real Madrid.
EFE: Considering your growth in the team, are you happy that Kylian Mbappé will not be coming to Madrid in the end?
R: It’s not something I was thinking about, I have a Champions League final to play and I’ve been focused on that, not Mbappé, which is a thing the club had to resolve.
EFE: Did Mbappé’s actions make a mockery of Real Madrid?
R: I don’t think so, but I can’t talk about something without knowing what went on. The only thing I know is that one day he was coming then the next he wasn’t, but I don’t know why he didn’t want to come, only that he is a Paris Saint-Germain player and we have to focus on what we have.
EFE: It’s now time for you to step up against Liverpool, what can you expect of your rivals?
R: Their main threat is their speed, they are always at the defense, so that’s where we have to take most care because they are great upfront.
EFE: If you had to choose one, which Liverpool player would you pick?
R: Salah, he’s an excellent player.EFE