The heat is on as Real face Dortmund
EVEN as Real Madrid struggle to maintain their Spanish Primera Liga title bid, greater emphasis has been placed on winning a 10th European crown. Today, they face Borussia Dortmund, who famously blocked their path last season.
As each year passes, the desire for Real to claim a 10th European Cup - or decima - has become more of an obsession, and president Florentino Perez has spent lavishly to try and make it a reality by bringing in top talent from around the world.
Real last won the Champions League back in 2002, and their hopes were raised once more last season when they reached the semi-finals, only for underdogs Dortmund to conjure up a stunning upset.
They face off again in their quarter-final first-leg tie today, with Real under pressure to produce some continental success after two defeats in three La Liga games derailed their domestic campaign following a long, unbeaten run.
Real may be facing a Dortmund who have been blighted by injuries all season, but coach Jurgen Klopp believes they can pull off another surprise at the Bernabeu.
"With our budget and list of injuries...we are the underdogs in the tie," he told Spanish newspaper Marca.
"However, I always say that it is not necessary to be the best team in the world, but to be capable of beating the best in the world in a one-off contest, and Borussia can beat the best... Borussia have a chance and maybe we will catch them out."
Real responded to the back-to-back defeats, including one by Barcelona, with a comprehensive 5-0 win at the weekend against Rayo Vallecano.
"We are coming towards the end and it could be better after two defeats, but we are physically in good shape, mentally we reacted well and we are optimistic," coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
"On Wednesday, we will have a good atmosphere (in the stadium). Everyone has a dream, the 10th, and everyone understands that we can win if we are all united and we can realise the dream."