He speaks with caution, but also with confidence: Michel Salgado sees Real Madrid, team that’s imbued in his skin, on their way to winning their 13th Champions League in their brilliant history. He raised the ‘Big Ears’ twice with the merengue team and now, since retiring, analyzes the current European Champions League, where the Spanish team is already qualified to the quarterfinals.
During a chat with Metro, he highlighted the greatness of the team, which seems made for those magical Champions League nights as well as how he finds it difficult for another team to ever match their number of continental titles, because "this club can never stop.”
Q: You won it twice, how does the life of a soccer player change after winning the Champions League? Is there a before and after?
– Of course there is a before and after, I think that when you win this competition, when you raise this trophy, you reach the highest point of your career and obviously you will be seen differently in the club where you won it. The first thing you have to think about is that the moment you raise this trophy you have made history for the club that you won it for. There is no turning back, you are already in the history of the club, that is what the Champions League really represents. As far as I'm concerned, I've been lucky enough to win it in a club where this trophy is special, really special. We have won 12 trophies so far and we have shown at historical level that this trophy is made for Madrid. There is always a before and after winning this trophy.
Q: Why is this trophy made for Real Madrid, which can do not so well in the league, but is always fighting in Europe?
– I think you have to have something special to play a tournament like this. The difference between the League and the Champions League is that the League is a regular tournament, where you have to be motivated for 38 days, with many situations, with ups and downs. The Champions League is a different competition, the group is made first, but then it becomes a knock-out, Real Madrid has the mentality and history to withstand that kind of pressure at important times and nights. I think it was shown against PSG in this last tie what Real Madrid can do. Everyone had PSG as favorite because of what they were seeing from Real Madrid, it is true that they are not doing well in the Spanish League, nor in the Cup, already eliminated, but when that special night arrives, that's what makes a club great and the players great, that moment where the best in the world are required and when they wear that emblem they know what it weighs, they know what they are representing and the pressure they have. They give the best of themselves and that is why this competition is made for Real Madrid.
Q: You mentioned how great the team is and those 12 cups. Do you see another team in the mid or long term, Barcelona or any other, that can equal Real Madrid?
– It really is complicated. Barcelona also had a good run, but we were able, between the two seasons, to overcome them. I think the problem is not that Barcelona, Milan, Juventus or any of the big teams in Europe try to follow Real Madrid or try to match it. The problem is that Real Madrid is not going to stop, that is the big problem that the rest of the teams have: Real Madrid can never stop. It is a team that is made with that pressure and with those values, Real Madrid is a team that cannot be second, it can only finish first. The difficulty I see in equating it is that Madrid will always be there, it will not stop.
Q: I can imagine what your heart says, but technically speaking, do you see Real Madrid's 13 on the way?
– Yes, I see it’s on track towards number 13, but you have to be very cautious, because Barcelona always thinks the same. They have a great team, they have the League on track, they have the Copa del Rey final, and to win those two titles is very close... That's why we talked about those magical nights, those important nights where you need those important players and the big teams have them, Barcelona has them, Bayern Munich has them. If you’re asking me if I see Real Madrid as champion, I do see it as champion, but you have to be very cautious, there is still a long way to go. I know it may seem like only five games, but five games in this competition is an eternity, it's a world. We have to keep going, follow step by step, first wait for the opponent and, above all, we have to be humble as we have been with PSG. We let everyone give PSG as favorite, everyone thought we didn’t stand a chance and the players have brought out the greatness of this club.