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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE | REAL MADRID - BAYERN

Xabi: "Cristiano gives us an explosive edge, we need him"

“I don’t view Real Madrid as the underdogs; I don’t see any favourites,” Xabi Alonso told the international press in this afternoon’s press conference.

As.com

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso accompanied Carlo Ancelotti in Tuesday’s press conference, the midfielder insisting that there are no favourites in tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich.

Different circumstances to the last meeting in 2012: “That was the return leg, this time, our intention is to go and win the game. We need to a good result to take to Munich for the return”.

Should Cristiano be risked? “If he is 100 per cent, he will play but that’s a decision for the coach, the player himself and the medical staff. We need him, he’s an important player for us”.

What qualities does Cristiano bring to the side? “Cristiano gives us an explosive edge, the potential to create chances and score goals. He’s a fundamental player for us and when he’s in the side, we make the most of the opportunities he creates for us. The other day in the Copa del Rey final, you could see that the whole team delivers”.

Bayern, Madrid’s bête noire... “I don’t view Real Madrid as the underdogs; Bayern are a great rival but we are also in a good moment of form. I don’t see any favourites going into this match and nor does it interest us to be handed the tag as favourites – that would only be an extra distraction for us”.

How will Madrid handle the game – by controlling the ball or by stealing it? “We need everyone’s participation. With Bayern’s characteristics, if you don’t attack and defend as a block you run the risk of losing position; we know them well”.

Differences in styles between [Jupp] Heynckes and Guardiola: “They are different sides with different players. It’s not worth making any comparisons and the only thing we can say is that Bayern are a great team. They have been introducing variations to their game and flexibility with their squad”.

Extra motivation for facing Guardiola: “In think at this level, after making the semi-finals for three years running, we want to take the next step. We couldn’t be more motivated or more focused”.

Has Guardiola changed Bayern? “I don’t think so because the backbone of the team is basically the same but he has introduced some tactical variations to their game. Last year they were an amazing side who, with a different coach, made history”.

Concede possession or wait to steal the ball? “We need to put in a complete game. We need to know when to hit them on the attack and the moments to punish them. Ball possession is just a statistic which you have to interpret in relation to other factors. What we need to do is read the game well”.

Howard Webb: “For me, he’s a great referee. Both teams can feel relaxed that he is in charge of the game”.

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