Casemiro says Real Madrid head into a crunch Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach in confident mood, with the Blancos adopting the mindset of “you don’t play finals, you win them”.
A meeting with German opponents at Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday has become a winner-takes-all contest for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Continental struggles have left Madrid third in Group B with just one game left to take in.
Victory is required over Monchengladbach in order to book a place in the last 16 and extend another adventure among the European elite into 2021.
Defeat could be catastrophic for Real, with it possible that Inter could climb above them and snatch the consolation prize of a spot in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Casemiro is giving little thought to that outcome, with the Brazil international midfielder adamant that Zidane’s side will collect the result they need on home soil.
He told reporters at a pre-match press conference: “We know that this is the most important game of the year.
“We all know that tomorrow is a final. We have to face it as if it were a final. We’ve been taught at this club that you don’t play finals, you win them.
“We’re not thinking about anything other than winning. We know there is a good opponent and they’re top of the group, so we have to respect that. But, we’re going out to win.”
Casemiro added on the prospect of missing out on a top-two finish: “If we can’t continue in the Champions League, I’d prefer to continue in a competition.
“We’d want to win the Europa League. But, we’re only thinking about winning and going through.”
Real will face Monchengladbach on the back of a much-needed La Liga victory over Sevilla last time out, but momentum has proved difficult to establish this season with the games coming thick and fast.
Casemiro said of those struggles: “I’m not here to give excuses, but we know that this year the pre-season wasn’t normal.
“There are some teams in La Liga who only play at the weekends, whereas we play every three days. We’re not having time to rest and we’re having injuries.
“It’s not just at Real Madrid, but many other teams are having ups and downs. Because it’s impossible to play so many matches together.
“We know that this isn’t a normal season. We have many matches. The pre-season wasn’t normal and we’re not machines. Playing every three days isn’t normal, so there have been many injuries.”
One of those set to return to the Madrid fold from the treatment room is Sergio Ramos, with Casemiro delighted to have the Blancos’ talismanic skipper back.
He added: “He’s a leader and he’s our captain. He’s been here for a long time.
“We also need to praise those who have done things well, like Nacho and [Raphael] Varane. But, Ramos is the best and we’re very happy that he is back with us.”