• Marcelo and Real Madrid on quest for third Club World Cup title
  • Brazilian hoping for a final against compatriots Gremio
  • Spanish side face Al Jazira in their opening match on Wednesday

“It was hard to start off with, but now it’s a case of ‘no pressure, no fun’,” said Marcelo with a cheeky smile. Having now spent nearly 11 seasons at Real Madrid, he should know all about pressure. Only club captain Sergio Ramos has spent more time at the club than the Brazilian, who is the team’s vice-captain.

Since signing his first contract with Madrid at the age of 18, Marcelo has won pretty much everything there is to win. His 17 titles include three UEFA Champions League crowns and two FIFA Club World Cup honours, though the swashbuckling Merengue left-back is not someone who stops to look back at what he has achieved. “No,” he said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “I don’t look back for my motivation,” he added with a laugh.

“Football has a short memory, and for me, the most important title is always the next one.” And that next title could well be the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017, a competition in which Madrid play their opening game against host club Al Jazira on Wednesday.

Should Madrid end up winning the competition, it will be their fifth title out of the six they have contested this year, following La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

*The lowdown on Marcelo *

  • An orange Beetle: among his many tattoos, Marcelo has a VW Beetle on his right arm. He had it done in tribute to his grandfather, who won some money on the lottery one year and bought a second-hand Beetle that he used to take his grandson to training.

  • A return to futsal: like many other Brazilian players, Marcelo started out on the futsal court, before being signed at the age of 15 by Fluminense, the only other club he has ever played for. He intends to return to futsal before retiring for good.

  • A rebellious streak: at the end of his first season in Madrid, one in which he barely played, the club planned to send him out on loan. Marcelo refused. Fortunately for him, it was at that time that Roberto Carlos left the club with a vacancy on the left flank, which was soon to have a new occupant.

  • Born to attack: “I’m a defender, but I like to attack,” Marcelo said. That perhaps explains why his eldest son, Enzo, is a forward. The eight-year-old plays for one of Madrid’s junior teams. “I’m really tired when I get home and I don’t have the energy to be playing with him all day. I just go in goal,” said Marcelo with a smile.

  • *Leading by example: *“Roberto Carlos helped me a lot when I arrived at Madrid, and I try to do the same with the youngsters, because Madrid is not an easy place to come to when you’re 19 or 20. I’ve been through that and I had help from people like Roberto, Sergio [Ramos], [Fabio] Cannavaro, Iker [Casillas], [Michel] Salgado and [Ruud] van Nistelrooy. I try to do the same thing.”

*Two becomes three? *“It’s a challenge,” he says. However, the possibility of winning the tournament for a third time and drawing level with Barcelona as the most successful club in the history of the competition is not an extra source of motivation for Marcelo: “We don’t look at other teams. We do what we have to do.”

*Step by step *“We’ve got the semi-final first, and we have to win it, so that we can then start thinking about the final. We want to win the Club World Cup, which is a very important tournament, but we know that we have to take things one game at a time. We can't just turn up and say: ‘We’re going to win and that’s that’. No. You have to respect all the teams, like they respect us, and give all you can to win the title.”

*Harder than it seems? *“Nothing is easy, especially in football. I’ve played in two Club World Cups and won them both, but it was difficult. Nothing comes easy at Madrid. I’ve been here for many years and everything’s been tough. We’ve won a lot of titles, but we’ve had to work for it.”

*Dream rivals *“I’m proud of the fact that a Brazilian side made it to the final of the [Copa] Libertadores, which is a very difficult competition, and that they made it to the Club World Cup too. Playing Gremio in the final would be really exciting. That would be amazing.”

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