Interview: Cheryshev: It’ll feel strange to be a visitor to the Di Stefano

Interview He used to play there for Castilla

Cheryshev: It'll feel strange to be a visitor to the Di StefanoAFP/Marca

After having spent a decade at Real Madrid as a youth player, Denis Cheryshev has admitted that it will feel a little strange when he enters the the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Thursday night to play against Real Madrid for Valencia.

The stadium is normally used for B team matches, but due to the ongoing renovations at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu the club have decided to play the rest of their home games this season at the facility.

In an interview with MARCA, the Russia international reflected on that and on the huge LaLiga Santander fixture.

Is it imperative you get a win after the last minute equaliser conceded against Levante?

“It gave us a sour taste after that result, after scoring in the 89th minute and thinking you have nicked a result and then drawing in the last seconds. It hurts. What’s more, conceding a penalty is something that always occurs due to a lapse in concentration. The errors are easily resolvable. We need to train well and prepare ourselves for the next match.”

Was Mouctar Diakhaby singled out after that match?

“We are all with him. Right now, what’s important is that everyone is united. Anyone can make a mistake and we all do from time to time. Tomorrow it could be me that makes a mistake or another teammate. The most important thing is to stay united and work together to for the team.”

Do you think it will be strange playing against Real Madrid in Valdebebas?

“Maybe a little because I was there for a long time. I played at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano for three years with Castilla and it will feel a little strange. But, I am excited to return there to try and get the win for my team, which is the most important.”

How is the Real Madrid youth academy?

“I went through all the teams: The youth C team, the youth A team and from there the jump to Castilla. After I didn’t play much for Castilla, they decided to give me a season with the C team. The season with Manolo Diaz was quite good. I then made the jump again to Castilla and had two seasons in the Segunda B division. After that was a season with Toril in the second division and then I signed a contract with the first team.”

The Real Madrid youth academy is full of top-quality players, but only a few reach the highest step…

“When I arrived at the Infantil B, the dream was to get to the first team. I was lucky to play with the first team. We knew that it was going to be difficult, as only the best play there. But to be playing in the first team is a dream come true, it’s what I always hoped for as a child when I started playing football. I remember when I arrived there, Nacho was there too. We started to play together and go up the teams together. He went up earlier, I always needed more time.”

Who do you still keep in touch with from those years?

“Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal. I played many years with them at Castilla. With Nacho, we played around 10 to 12 years together and I still have a good relationship with these players.”

How are you going to deal with Real Madrid this time?

“Real Madrid are a team that always score, they are one of the best teams in the world and will always be one of the best teams. It will be a complicated match for us, but if we are solid in defence then I’m sure we will get a couple of chances down the other end, chances that we need to take in order to come away with the win.”

Keeping a clean sheet is the challenge for Valencia…

“We are working hard every day to be solid in defence. We are a team that has great attacking options. If we keep a clean sheet, we will have more of an opportunity to win.”

There is a lot of competition in the team, particularly on the left side. There’s Goncalo Guedes, Lee Kang-in, Ferran Torres and Carlos Soler that can play there.

“We all train hard and obviously it’s the coach that decides who plays. All my colleagues have returned in good shape and if we have to wait for game time then we will just have to keep working in training and will have to make the most of the minutes we have on the pitch.”

You will be playing lots of games in a few weeks, which will increase the chance of injuries. What goes on in a footballer’s head with a fixture list like this?

“It is important to know how to manage yourself well. If you are overloaded and you start to feel niggles, you need to know when to step aside and let a teammate play. All 25 of us are training really well and are well prepared to play in whichever moment. You have to be careful because an injury could mean missing a number of games or months, which will hinder the squad. Every player will be needed.”

With the new rule of five substitutions, matches could significantly change in the second halves. How do you, as a player, face this new rule?

“It’s true that substitutes can change the face of a game now. If the players that come on show hunger, the team could easily improve and it could give us the boost necessary at the end of games.”

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