Dani Carvajal is back in the Spain squad after an injury-hit year, but thinking about club matters, he is surprised to see Barcelona 10 points behind Real Madrid in the LaLiga Santander table after just 12 games played.
The 29-year-old sat down with MARCA for an interview and discussed returning to the Spain squad, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sergio Ramos and more.
How did it feel to walk back into Spain camp as Las Rozas?
I enjoyed it like a kid, almost like when I came here for the first time. I was a bit nervous. I was very excited to see everyone again. I am very excited to return to defend this shirt, to help from within the national team.
Watching Spain from home, did you feel angry, helpless…?
A bit of all that. When you don’t play, it’s the worst. The European Championship was a goal I had. But now it’s over. You can’t live in the past. What I’m thinking about is Greece, which will be a tough battle.
The year 2020 was the year of the European Championship, you were in great form and then came the pandemic.
Yes, but that’s life. Now I have to think about the future, the present and helping the team. One of my objectives is to get to the [2022 World Cup].
I imagine you have friends who are very big Real Madrid fans.
[laughs] Yes, yes.
Have you had to explain to them many times that Luis Enrique is not anti-Real Madrid?
When I’ve heard that opinion I’ve tried to explain that he isn’t. The coach tries to call up the people he thinks will help him in what he wants, regardless of the team they play for. He has proved that. It’s his way, his philosophy and his idea.
He has always had you in his plans.
That’s right, and I thank him for that. Like what he said about me at the press conference on the day the squad list came out. I hope it continues to be like that.
Can you imagine a World Cup without Spain?
Not at the moment and we all have to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Let’s move on to Real Madrid. How do you feel going into this last international break of the year?
It’s something I was talking about when I arrived with Koke. The previous one caught them after beating Barcelona and [AC] Milan and it slowed them down a bit.
Now it’s good for them. For us, it breaks the run, but for those who have less demanding games than Spain, it can come in handy and give them a bit of a break.
Have you ruled Barcelona out of the title race in La Liga Santander?
Far from it. When [Zinedine] Zidane arrived we were 12 points behind Barcelona and we finished one point behind them, pushing them until the final game.
You have played with and against Xavi Hernandez. What do you think about his arrival?
A change for sure. The arrival of a figure like Xavi for Barcelona is going to fill them with hope. Although he is a rival I wish him all the luck in the world, [but] not against us [laughs].
What do you think of Barcelona’s situation?
As [Carlo Ancelotti] said, we are surprised to see Barcelona so far behind [in the title race], but nobody can rule them out for any trophy. Respect is essential.
What do you think when you see Vinicius Junior?
He’s like a rocket, he’s flying. He is helping us a lot: he comes short, he goes long, he’s scoring goals… He is the most in-form player in the team.
And an example of mental strength. He was criticised a lot for his lack of goals, for his lack of accuracy. And what he did was put everything on his back and keep moving forward.
Do you talk to Sergio Ramos?
Yes, we spoke recently. He told me that he was close to the final stretch of his return. I think that after the break he will be back. Let’s see if he’s lucky and we can enjoy his football again.
Has it been strange to come to the Spanish national team and not have Ramos there?
It is strange. I’ve seen a lot of new faces, very young people. I think if he does well [at Paris Saint-Germain], he will come back.
Does he seem well mentally?
Yes, calm and sure of what he has to do to not get injured anymore.
Among the new faces in the Spain squad is a 17-year-old kid.
Yes, Gavi. We gave each other a hug when we saw each other. It is very commendable that a boy of that age is in the senior squad. Nobody has gifted him anything. He has performed at a high level at his club [Barcelona] and in the national team. He played two games and played very well.