Raphael Varane: "I have grown as football player"

Varane celebrates his first goal for Real Madrid
Raphael Varane looks happy with Real Madrid

When you received a call from Zidane just over three months to play for Madrid, did you imagine that in such a short time you were going to play Champions League matches?
I have only 18 years and I did not think I would play such important games as a starter for a team like Madrid. But it's done. After two league games, have debuted in the Champions League and I can only cross my fingers to all goes down this path. And work hard, of course.

Having played the last three games as a starter, do you feel has made progress in your play?
Absolutely. I notice it. Training with coaching staff at this level and with players of that caliber allows me to learn many things. Having so many minutes at this time has made me to improve as central defender. In three games I have grown as a player.

You have also been able to discover what is the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in La Liga and Champions. Is it a big change respect your former club Lens?
Yes, the truth is that it has nothing to do. Felix Bollaert stadium is smaller, but the fans make more noise. It's a different environment. At the Bernabeu you note a different kind of pressure that is special.

What Jose Mourinho asked you before each of these three games you have played?
The coach told me I had to be very focused, avoid any dismissal. As I am young and lack experience, Mourinho wants, above all, no mistakes of inattention. I have to be really into the game from the opening whistle until the end. The central defender position needs very forcefully and we must be ready to intervene immediately.

Take a few months in Madrid, but you look happy in the team. Many people helped you to get a good start in this locker room ...
Actually, all peers have received me very well. Everyone feels great with me. The coach and Karim (Benzema), of course, but also Lass, who left France and went to play for Chelsea when he was still very young and has advised me about this new life. In regard to the field, I have the good fortune of being surrounded by very experienced players who are very attentive to me and help me constantly.

You are a regular in the Under-21 France team. Have you thought about playing with the senior team? Can you imagine to play the European Championship in June next year?
At the moment I do not think of anything. I just concentrate on what I'm doing at Real Madrid. I have the opportunity to play games as a starter and I focus on this. If Laurent Blanc calls me, I will be super happy, but now that is not an obsession for me. My number one target is to be efficient in the field and develop my style of play. If I am called up to the French national team, will be the result from what I do at Real Madrid.


Real Madrid 3 - 0 Ajax Amsterdam (UCL Day 2)

Real Madrid defeated Ajax 3-0 in their first Champions League match at the Bernabeu this season. The victory served the Whites to remain leaders in Group D. Kaka gave a stellar performance, scoring the team's second goal and assisting Benzema in the third.

Kaka and Cristiano celebrating the second goal of the team
Great performances by Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo

Ozil and Kaka made the starting lineup. Arbeloa replaced Marcelo, who was suspended for the match, and Varane took the injured Pepe's spot. Boerrigter forced Casillas to make an impressive save only 45 seconds into the game. The Whites reacted and Benzema nearly scored an opener from inside the box on the 16-minute mark, but his shot was off target. The most impressive effort of the evening came in the 24th minute: Ramos stole the ball and passed it to Ozil, who then served it to Cristiano; the Portuguese player gave it to Kaka and the Brazilian sent it back Ronaldo's way; the striker gave it to Ozil, who in turn passed it to Benzema in order to assist Cristiano inside the box in the team's first goal.

Ajax suffered from this spectacular team effort and they hardly left they're half of the pitch then onwards. De Boer's men hardly pressurised the Whites and it proved to be a fatal mistake. The locals scored their second strike on the 40-minute mark: Alonso served a long pass to Ronaldo and he passed it to Kaka, who was approaching the area line and managed to score a beauty.

Real tallied their third and final goal in the 48th minute: Arbeloa entered the box and passed the ball to Kaka, who avoided the goalkeeper's exit before leaving the ball for Benzema to send to the back of the net. Kaka's performance was truly spectacular and was replaced amidst a standing ovation by Di Maria in the 74th minute.

Benzema had to leave the pitch at the same time due to an injury and was replaced by Higuain. Ajax hardly had any chances on Casillas' goal, but the few they managed to pull off really put Casillas' reflexes to the test. The keeper was forced to prodigiously save a header by Vertonghen, proving yet again why he is considered to be the best in the world.

The final minutes of the encounter saw Hamit Altintop making his debut with the team now that he has recovered from his back injury. It was the perfect ending to a magical night at the Bernabeu.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 75,500
Goals: 1-0, min.25 Cristiano Ronaldo; 2-0, min.40: Kaka; 3-0, min.48: Benzema.


Real Madrid 6 - 2 Rayo Vallecano (Spanish League Day 6)

Real Madrid overcame adversity. Despite conceding a goal in the opening 12 seconds of their match against Rayo Vallecano, and being down to ten men from the 35-minute mark onwards, the Whites turned the score around and earned an impressive victory thanks to a great performance from Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo made a great performance against Rayo Vallecano
Cristiano Ronaldo

Expectations were high at the Bernabeu after the team failed to win its previous two away games in the league. Things didn't have an auspicious start when, only twelve seconds into the game, Tamudo shot on target from outside the box, forcing Iker Casillas to make a clearance, after which the ball landed at Michu's feet and the striker scored. It took Real a long time to get into the game after that and Mourinho decided to replace Lass with Ozil in the 28th minute. The German stepped up the team's game and helped it put pressure on Rayo by keeping possession. The Whites were constantly attacking and their first strike came from a counterattack: Kaka served the ball to Ronaldo and the Portuguese nutmegged keeper Gutierrez after a 30-minute run.

The Madridistas saw the game was wide open again and went for it. The visitors withstood their onslaughts as best they could and eventually tackled Kaka close to the box (44'). Xabi Alonso crossed the ball into the area from the free-kick, Sergio Ramos anticipated Gutierrez's exit and Higuain ended up with the ball before an empty goal. Thus, the Argentine gave the locals the lead by half-time.

The second half had a frantic start, with Real looking to seal the match. Kaka entered Rayo's area and Movilla challenged him late. Ronaldo took the ensuing penalty and scored a third for the Whites (50'). A few minutes later Rayo fought back and scored from a corner kick taken by Michu (54'). One minute later, Di Maria was sent off with a second booking.

Real Madrid pull rank in adverse situations and played their best when they were down to ten men. Mourinho reacted quickly and made Khedira and Benzema come on for Kaka and Higuain. Ozil served a corner kick on the 66-minute mark and Varane finished it off with a heel kick. Rayo kept trying to score a goal of their own, but they hardly had time to react to Madrid's latest when Benzema tallied yet another being assisted by Ozil right outside the box.

And there was more to come when Gimenez tackled Ronaldo inside the area and another penalty was awarded. Cristiano took it and scored his third goal of the evening. CR7 has already netted seven strikes this season and is on his way to earning last year's impressive numbers.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 67,500
Goals: 0-1, min.1, Michu; 1-1, min.37, Cristiano Ronaldo; 2-1, min.45, Higuaín; 3-1, min.50, Cristiano Ronaldo (p.); 3-2, min.55, Michu; 4-2, min.67, Varane; 5-2, min.73, Benzema 6-2; min.83, Cristiano Ronaldo (p.)
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