Casemiro is living the dream at Real Madrid by playing in the Champions League as his side prepare to take on Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday.
The midfielder, 24, has become a key figure with the Santiago Bernabeu side in recent weeks and impressed in Saturday’s victory over Barcelona in El Clasico at Camp Nou.
Casemiro revealed he is delighted to be playing in Europe’s elite club competition and expects Wolfsburg to pose a stern test in Germany, but nonetheless wants Madrid to play their own game as they chase glory under Zinedine Zidane.
“Every [side] Real Madrid could have faced would have been difficult because there are no easy teams,” he told UEFA.
“We need to respect Wolfsburg because we know they have some great players, but we have to respect them while playing our own game, our happy football.
“I left Brazil with the mentality of wanting to win in life. I always hold my head up high. I had a dream to play in the Champions League, so every time I play for Real Madrid – and in the Champions League – I try to enjoy it as much as possible because it’s the realisation of a dream.”
Real Madrid will have to make do without the services of Raphael Varane due to a calf injury, but they will be brimming with confidence following the 2-1 win over arch-rivals Barca which was sealed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner after Sergio Ramos had been sent off.
Wolfsburg, meanwhile, have little reason for optimism following their recent form. Dieter Hecking’s men were beaten 3-0 by Bayer Leverkusen on Friday, meaning they are now three games without a win and down in eighth in the Bundesliga – seven points outside the top four with six games remaining.
Consequently, Marcel Schafer feels Wolfsburg only have a very slim chance to spring a surprise, even though they are relishing the challenge of testing themselves at the highest level.
“Last season we worked our asses off to make it into the Champions League,” Schafer said to UEFA.
“Now we have made history for the club by reaching the quarter-finals and we are playing one of the world’s best teams.
“When you think that 20 or 25 years ago you were watching Real Madrid on TV, and now you have got the chance to play against them, it is a fantastic challenge.
“We know we only have a very small chance, but you go onto the pitch to be successful and that’s what we want to do against Real as well. We have nothing to lose.”
Hecking will be without Sebastian Jung due to a knee injury, while Daniel Caligiuri and Bas Dost are doubtful.
This is Wolfsburg and Real Madrid’s first-ever competitive encounter.
Key Opta facts:
– Wolfsburg are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history.
– Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in as many Champions League games against German opposition.
– Wolfsburg have lost only one of their seven Champions League home games, against Manchester United in December 2009 (1-3).
– Keylor Navas has yet to concede a goal in the Champions League and is only 133 minutes away from equalling Jens Lehmann’s record in the competition (853 minutes).
– Real Madrid have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the sixth consecutive season. Only Barcelona are currently on a longer run (nine).
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