A Real purpose
Madrid stars have set their sights on matching Barca, says Casillas.
15th September 2009
"It is not that we have some kind of personal battle with Barcelona but they are our eternal rivals and having watched them achieve what they achieved last year, we must try and equal it that."
Real Madrid's president may have spent the summer shooting for the stars, but there players have their feet firmly on the ground.
That was the message from goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who celebrates 10 years at the club this season.
The keeper believes that despite the huge price tags and reputations of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzem and Xabi Alonso, there is a professionalism in the Real squad that may have been lacking for some time.
Casillas, still only 28, is in his second Galacticos era having been a teenager when Florentino Perez first splashed the cash. Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo did manage to lift the Champions League and win the title but did not go on to establish a legacy or a platform to keep arch rivals Barcelona firmly in check.
Barca of course, swept to a stylish treble last season and that, says one of Real's senior players is motivation enough for the second generation of Galacticos to knuckle down and re-establish the club as Spain's dominant force.
"Barcelona are a great side," he told Revista de la Liga. "At the moment they are the best side in the world.
"It does not hurt me to recognise the quality they showed last year. I think that was clear for all to see. I think that is going to motivate us even more this season.
"It is not that we have some kind of personal battle with Barcelona but they are our eternal rivals and having watched them achieve what they achieved last year, we must try and equal it that... by doing exactly what Florentino Perez has done and put together a great team.
"We have great players who have their feet on the ground and are ready to work as professionals to achieve things. The combination of new signings with the strong players that we already had at the club has put us in a strong position."
That position has seen Real win both their La Liga games over Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna so far, to keep pacer with their 'eternal rivals' who also have six points out of six.
Casillas' own position at the Bernabeu has always been one of strength, but as he himself admits, has now changed.
He has gone from being a star-struck teenager sharing a dressing room with Zidane and Figo, to a one-man barrier while the defence in front of him regularly fell apart, to one of the captains in Manuel Pelligrini's squad.
He is already the captain of the successful Spain side, replacing long-time team-mate Raul, and is now relishing the role of passing on the tradtions of the club to the younger generation and expensive signings.
"I have a new role to play now," he said. "Whilst before I did not have to worry about anything other than my own performance, now I am involved in some decisions with the captains.
"It is all part of your department as a player and it is part of my role with the national team as well. To begin with I was the second captain after Raul and then I stepped up and took on a more senior role working alongside Luis Aragones.
"Of course it was tough to replace someone like that, but the experience has gone well and has helped me develop as a leader.
"My task at Real Madrid now, as someone who has been here for 10 years, alongside Guti and Raul - who have been here longer than me - is to pass on the values of the club to the new players.