- La Liga
Barca struggles don't worry Real, says Kaka
Kaka says Real Madrid are too focused on their own concerns to think about whether another win over Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday would tip the Catalan side into crisis.
Madrid come into the sixth Clasico of the season with one eye on next Tuesday's Champions League last 16 return leg at Manchester United. They are in a buoyant mood after this week's emphatic 3-1 Copa del Rey semi-final victory over Barca at the Camp Nou, while the Catalan club seem slumped in gloom after also losing 2-0 to AC Milan in the first-leg of their Champions League tie week before.
The Brazil international told reporters at a press conference at his club's Valdebebas training facility that another win over Barcelona would set Madrid up well for the trip to Old Trafford.
"We do not think about leaving Barca in a crisis or not," he said. "We just think about what we have to do ourselves. We must win the game against Barcelona and against Manchester United. The team has shown it can beat anyone. Tuesday's game has given us a lot of confidence. Beating Barcelona is always good for us."
The Spanish media have speculated that having given up on retaining the La Liga title, Madrid boss Jose Mourinho could make sweeping changes to his line-up for Saturday's game. Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo are among those who could be rested ahead of Tuesday's more important European game at United.
Kaka, though, said Madrid were taking the game seriously as they had not given up the possibility of chasing down Barca and were also keen to overtake city rivals Atletico Madrid into second place.
"We know that 16 points are a lot," he said. "But we just take things game to game. Tomorrow is a chance to cut the gap to 13. Passing Atletico and moving into second would be ideal too."
The former Milan player, who scored two superb goals in a 3-2 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat for the Rossoneri at Old Trafford in 2007, and netted again in Milan's 3-0 victory in the return game, admitted he had happy memories of playing United.
"The goals that I scored there, and the importance of the game, was very special for me," he said. "I do not know what will happen on Tuesday, but the most important is tomorrow's Clasico. On Tuesday we will see if I play or not."
Kaka could take the place of the suspended Angel Di Maria against Barcelona, in what would be his first start in a 'big' game this season. He said he had never lost faith in his own ability, and had gained further confidence from last weekend's decisive performance at Deportivo La Coruna, where he scored once and laid on Madrid's other goal as they came from behind to win 2-1.
"It has been an uncomfortable situation for me, but I have always known I could still contribute in football," he said. "Tomorrow could be a good opportunity to show I can contribute in big games. I would like to do much more, but I understand the situation. There are very good players here and I respect those who are playing. The chance to play 90 minutes [at Deportivo] and to be decisive at the end, was good for me. The physical problems I had in previous seasons are gone. I feel comfortable on the pitch."
Asked whether - as suggested by his brother this week - he could leave Madrid next summer in order to play more regularly and seal a place in Brazil's squad for the 2014 World Cup, Kaka said it was a possibility.
"I have two more years of contract here," he said. "It would not be a problem for me to stay. But if a move was good for both the club and for me, then we will do that. We have not reached an agreement on that, so I am happy to stay here and look for my chances with the team."
The playmaker was also asked for his views on this week's major talking point around the Spanish capital, the venue for May's Copa final against city rivals Atletico Madrid.
"We have not spoken about that," Kaka said. "It would be ideal to play in the Bernabeu. But in the end we do not mind a neutral ground. We just want to play the final."