Roberto Carlos: "Losing the derby feels like losing the World Cup"

The Brazilian analyzed this weekend's Madrid derby in an event orgazined by brewers Mahou and said that if James was such a bad player, he wouldn't be Colombia captain.

Huge occasion

Roberto Carlos knows all about how huge derby day is in the Spanish capital - and the ramifications of losing one... the former Real Madrid left-back took part in an event organized by local brewers Mahou along with ex-Atlético Luis Perea and former Barça and Valencia player Gaizka Mendieta and gave a player's insight into the psychology of mentally preparing for a Madrid derby or a Clásico; he also had some encouragement for James Rodríguez who, he says, has got all he needs to triumph at Madrid and convince Zidane of his talents.

James needs some TLC

“If James was such a bad player, he wouldn’t be playing for the Colombia national team and he wouldn’t be their captain", Roberto Carlos argued. "There’s been a lot of talk about how many minutes he’s been getting – he’s in the best team in the world and he needs a bit of love. I went though moments when I needed some love myself... James needs to ask himself, ‘what can I do to improve? So that the coach doesn’t have any doubts about me’; it depends on him – he’s got the talent, he’s intelligent, he is incredible striking the ball – he’s a brilliant player. For me, he’s a sensation”.

Staying mentally focused

However you look at it, the Brazilian explained, you cannot escape the pressure building in the days running up to a derby: “The preparation for a Clásico or a derby is no different from that for any other game but there are other things which need to be done because of what goes through the minds of the players; they will be wondering what will happen in the week following the game, how they will be received by their fans at their stadium – because losing a derby or a Clásico is like losing a World Cup final".

Tune in, turn off

Roberto Carlos says he always had one method of avoiding being distracted ahead of a derby or a Clásico “When you are playing a derby at this level, whether it’s at the Bernabéu or the Calderón, there is huge pressure – and that’s normal. It’s difficult to explain to people but the players out on the pitch know how important it is to win a derby and if you are going to lose, it’s better to lose by the minimum. When there was a derby coming up, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I’d turn my phone off...

“Now, in my ambassadorial role at the club, I can get another view of the impact this game has outside of Spain and I am a bit more relaxed in the days leading up to the game", he concluded.

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