“It was hard for us to get in the game. Málaga are a quality side currently in UCL qualifying positions. They’ve invested to reach that far. They made things difficult for us in the first half, but not in the second. We only scored one goal from the many chances we had. The question should be why we usually score so many goals. Scoring one or failing to do so is normal too. I don’t think I have reasons to be critical of my men; they didn’t lack ambition. I’m not critical of the referee either. He should have given us two penalties, but that happens too.”
“You can win, draw or lose a match. You sometimes fail to win despite doing your best. The unnatural thing is to win as many games as we have. We could have drawn any other clash if not this one, such as the one with Rayo… It’s normal to draw a match. There are 11 games left and 33 points still at stake, meaning the championship is still open. We only worry about what we do because we’ll win if we take enough points.”
Cristiano: “The referee seemed scared to make some calls, but I don’t want to judge him because he tried to do his best.” [videos: English / Spanish]
Alonso: “It’s a shame we didn’t score a second strike, & you pay for your mistakes. It doesn’t matter though because the league is far from over.”
Casillas: “We never thought we’d won the league, & we have to defend our place in every game. We are about to play difficult matches on the road & must focus on one at a time. We want to win again. We had a ten point lead, & it’s annoying to drop it by two, but there are eleven games left, & we’ll do our best to win. We must stand united with our fans till the end. We understand the Bernabéu crowd is very demanding.” [video: Spanish]
Pepe: “We controlled the match, but must now focus on the next one. We knew Málaga were very good. We had chances to score more goals, but that’s football for you. We have to continue working towards achieving our objectives.” [video: Spanish]
When asked about a difficult shot that could have been the fourth for Real Madrid -
“Yes, I missed barely. Now I can try everything. If something comes of it, great. If not, no problem. I feel fully confident & physically I’m at 100%. For that reason, I dare to do many things that I wouldn’t before.”
on the poor first half - “I told the players at halftime that if I could’ve made 11 substitutions, I would have. I only had three, but I would have replaced the 11. I had intended making substitutions to make something happen with the team. I thought about doing it before the half, but I don’t like doing that. The three that I took off didn’t play worse than the rest. I didn’t want to point fingers at anyone.” [x]
on the comeback - “Our performance in the first half was not good. We lacked concentration & made big mistakes in set pieces, but my team cleaned its own trash thanks to the support of the crowd. It isn’t easy to find such support when you’re losing. We came back thanks to the bond between team & audience, & we’ll have the advantage in Málaga.”
Casillas:“I don’t know. It was a set of circumstances coming together all at once—Christmas break, being apart from one another. Now we have to begin again, & at times it’s better start again in this way. After a little shock, this will wake us up a bit & remind us that we must be alert in every single game & every competition.” [videos - English / Spanish]
Higuaín:“It was a complicated game against a difficult opponent. We didn’t do well in the first half, but we proved we wanted to win the game despite conceding two goals. We’ll have a victory advantage in Malaga, which is a very important thing to have in a two leg knock-out stage.” [video - Spanish]
Albiol:“The first games in every year are always dangerous, & it is hard to adapt after the Christmas break. We were losing 2-0 at home, but we reacted, played well & fixed things in the second half. We ended up winning 3-2, proving we know how to react. The crowd also gave us all its support.” [video - Spanish]
Benzema:“The first half was difficult, but we won the game. I celebrated my goal with Higuaín because we’re both strikers and feel the same way about it. What characterizes this team is its fighting spirit and that’s why we gave our all in the second half. We fought hard.” [video- Spanish]
In just under 10 minutes, Real Madrid were able to score three unanswered goals in a brilliant Cup comeback.
Benzema’s game winner was his 49th official goal for Real Madrid, on par with Zizou as the club’s best-scoring Frenchman. [x]
Real Madrid return to work in a closed session at 11 o’clock Thursday morning. [x]
Tuesday’s victory against Málaga was just the first of six matches this month—the first of four in 11 days.
Cautions: Pepe will sit out of Saturday’s match against Granada after having picked up two yellows in the previous league match versus Sevilla. Both Ramos & Lass are in danger of suspension, as they each sit on four yellows.