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‘Ferocious fighting spirit’

Real poised between doubt and self-belief

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On the eve of the decisive return leg of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern, Real Madrid coach José Mourinho is not expecting the visitors simply to defend their slender lead. “Bayern know that if they don’t score a goal, they are effectively out,” Mourinho declared at a press conference in Madrid on Tuesday. Real lost 2-1 in Munich to Germany’s most successful club.

Following their 2-1 Clásico victory in Barcelona last Saturday, the Madrid side will take on the Reds with their self-confidence renewed. Having practically wrapped up the Spanish championship, Real are now focused on reaching their first final and winning their first European title since the 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen 10 years ago.

“Bayern know all about our attacking capability,” said Mourinho, for whose side a 1-0 win would be sufficient to clinch a place in the final at Munich’s Allianz Arena. However, the Portuguese coach is also well aware that the 90 or 120 minutes on Wednesday evening will be no stroll in the park for the Madrid men. “What worries me most about Bayern is their ferocious fighting spirit,” he said. “The strength of a team is more important than the quality of individual players, and Bayern have that strength.”