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Real deal for Madrid

AFP
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MADRID - Real Madrid are confident a hostile home support can help them overturn a 2-1 deficit against Bayern Munich tomorrow (6.45am Fiji Time) in the second-leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo spoke of the importance of the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu after edging his side closer to their first Spanish league title in four years on Sunday with the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Barcelona.

"I hope the Bernabeu gets the first goal. The crowd has to be ready from the minute we go on the pitch because we feel their influence. It's a big match and if we have the crowd's support we'll be full of confidence," he said.

"We know from the first game that Bayern are going to play on the counter-attack and they'll have a lot of respect for us in our own stadium."

After a tight first leg decided in Bayern's favour by a Mario Gomez goal in the 90th minute, every little detail is going to count as these two giants -- with 13 European Cups between them -- go head to head again.

The victory in the Clasico will lift Madrid as they attempt to reach their first Champions League final since 2002, when they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden to lift a record ninth continental crown.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho kept quiet after the Barcelona match, as is his custom of late in league games, perhaps to consider the important question of whether or not to continue with a winning team.

The same eleven that started at the Camp Nou lost in Germany last week, and he has options if he believes three big games in little over a week are too much for some of his players.

Brazilians Kaka and Marcelo and Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain could all be used from the start to freshen things up.

Bayern accepted defeat in their own domestic battle to catch Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga before the first-leg with Madrid.

For that reason coach Jupp Heynckes, who led Madrid to their seventh European title in 1997-98, was able to make eight changes to his team for the 2-1 win at Werder Bremen.

* AFP





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