Real Madrid return to training at UCLA with championship aspirations

Casillas: “We want to go one step further”

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CARSON, Calif. – Real Madrid, recently ranked the 2nd biggest club in the world by Forbes, overcame their bitter rivals Barcelona last season en route to capturing their team record-32nd La Liga title. Up next? Facing the LA Galaxy on Thursday at The Home Depot Center (7:30pm PT, ESPN2, espn3.com, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT) followed by all of Europe.

For most clubs around the world, a domestic title represents the height of footballing glory and the completion of a long journey. For Real Madrid, who arrived in Los Angeles earlier this week, the players view it as a mere step forward toward further domestic dominance and the acquisition of their elusive 10th European Championship.

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“We want to go one step further,” Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas explained after training during a Sunday presser at UCLA, “just as we have done over each of the last two seasons since Mourinho arrived.”

Madrid, who might start to view the UCLA campus as a sort of home away from home, returned to Westwood for the third consecutive year to train for few days before their match against the Galaxy this Thursday.

The team has had little time for relaxation, setting a schedule that should help prepare Madrid’s star-studded lineup for the rigors of the coming season. Still, the club has set lofty goals.

“We want to win all titles,” Casillas stated, as he began listing the various competitions his team will face in the upcoming year; “The Spanish SuperCup is the first title up for grabs, and we want to defend the Spanish league title and the Spanish Cup, but after two years of arriving at the doorstep of the Champions League Final, we do want to finally reach the finale of Europe’s main competition.”

However, Casillas was worried about the perception that the team is solely focused on their European aspirations, and dialed back media expectations accordingly. “Winning it is not an obsession,” the Spanish International cautioned, “We must concentrate first on winning the league matches and then the SuperCup.” Still, the keeper admits that Los Blancos have winning the club’s 10th European championship fully on their minds.

“With the team we have, the players, the fans and the stadium, this team deserves the European Cup,” Casillas readily acknowledged, “The steps we are taking are the right ones and we have a young and very experienced team. Two years of experience will be very useful.”

Also useful will be their upcoming match against the Galaxy, whom Madrid have faced several times before and believe provide a solid preseason test. “We’ve come here to get ready,” Casillas noted, praising the strength of the teams Madrid will face during their tour. “We’ve come to prepare for the first title of the year and for the first match in our league.”