24 year-old Lucas Vazquez had a bit of a breakthrough season last term and he can thank Rafa Benitez for that.
When Rafa arrived at the club last summer he put Lucas into the first team squad after he had spent a season on loan at Espanyol in Barcelona.
Lucas played 33 games last season for Real Madrid in all competitions and scored 4 goals and has 10 assists.
Lucas Vasquez – given chance by Rafa Benitez
He was then a surprise call-up for Spain’s Euro 2016 23 man squad, as Isco and Saul were both left out – and Lucas didn’t expect to be in France right now.
With Real Madrid winning the Champions League on penalties against Atletico Madrid – the same outcome as two years ago – Lucas is now dreaming of also winning Euro 2016 with Spain.
This is what he had to say yesterday:
“Winning them both – Champions League and Euros – in the same season would be amazing, a feat very few have done.”
“A month ago I thought at this time I would be on holiday on the beach, but I feel very comfortable and I really want to play. I’m wearing the number nine, which is a number I love.
“Zidane and Benitez are two great coaches. They have different styles and neither is better than the other, each has his methods.”
“I am very happy with both because they trusted me and gave me the chance to play. I’m very grateful.”
“It is very difficult to get a place (for Real Madrid and Spain) as there are great players on both teams and a deep squad.”
Rafa was slammed at Real Madrid but mainly by one man – Cristiano Ronaldo – who thought it ridiculous that Rafa wanted to improve his free kicks.
Once you think you cannot improve – that’s a dangerous place to be – and there’s evidence the 31 year-old Portuguese striker may be getting a little too big for his boots.
He criticized Iceland for being so small-minded and going crazy with their surprise 1-1 with Portugal in Euro 2016:
“I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end, it was unbelievable.”
“When they don’t try to play and just defend, defend, defend, this in my opinion shows a small mentality and are not going to do anything in the competition.”
“We tried hard to win the game, Iceland didn’t try anything,”
It’s a pity Ronaldo showed his ignorance of Iceland, who have a population of only 323,000 compared to a population of over 10 million in Portugal.
So Iceland are small if not small-minded.
Maybe his criticism of Rafa Benitez at Real was also unfounded?