Aitor Karanka stood in for Jose Mourinho and praised Real Madrid’s makeshift defence that kept a clean sheet against Celta Vigo.
An unlucky international break stripped the squad of full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo through injury, so against the Galicians Mourinho selected a back four of Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Raphael Varane and Michael Essien.
“The back four has been very good, they have done a great job,” commented Karanka after the game.
“Sergio Ramos knows that position [full-back] very well and we know of the level that Varane can deliver.
“The Coach also knows Michael perfectly well and knows that he offers many possibilities and that he can play in many positions and will do well in all of them.
“It was a very important game because after the international break it is always difficult to start again, as is the case for everyone, and Michael’s response was as hoped for.
“We knew that if Celta had the ball then they were going to create problems and we had to press high up the pitch and leave little space for the ball.
“Our outlet was pressure and it destroyed their confidence and did not permit them to play as they usually do.”
Castilla full-back Nacho was an unused substitute in the game.
“Nacho may be a similar case to Arbeloa. Nacho we have known for four years in the ranks of the youth team and he can play all four positions.
“He plays on the flanks for us and I think he has the best conditions for that, having a lighter physique than Arbeloa.”
Assistant Coach Karanka was also asked of news relating to two Brazilians – Ricky Kaka, who was substituted at half-time for Angel Di Maria, and Marcelo, who was recently operated on for a broken foot.
“The substitution of Kaka was a technical decision. We have opted for a player in a system of more use to us, with Di Maria on the wing and [Mesut] Ozil in the centre.
“There is no news regarding Marcelo, we are waiting and hopefully he will progress very well and return to Valdebebas.
“Whether he is playing or not playing, he is very important to the dynamic of the group, for his joy and character.”