BARCELONA (Reuters) - As Real Madrid struggle to maintain their La Liga title bid, a greater emphasis has been placed on winning a 10th European crown and this week they face a Borussia Dortmund side 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.
They 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 Borussia Dortmund to conjure up a stunning upset.
They face off again in their quarter-final first leg tie on Wednesday with Real under pressure to enjoy some continental success after two defeats in three league games has derailed their domestic campaign after a long unbeaten run.
Real may be facing a Dortmund side which has been blighted by injuries all season but coach Jurgen Klopp believes they can pull off a 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
“That is the most important thing for me. Borussia have a chance and maybe we will catch them out.”
Along with the players in the treatment room, they will also miss talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski, who is suspended for the first leg.
“It has been a very difficult campaign from the start. We have faced extraordinary challenges and an injury crisis without precedent,” Klopp added.
“I have never seen anything similar but having said that, we are in a position to achieve all the targets we set out at the start of the season.
“We will play like we always do. We have to try and do our own game in the Bernabeu. Madrid are favorites but we will try and get a result that will give us a chance in the second leg.”
Real responded to the back-to-back defeats, including against 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 told a news conference.
“On Wednesday, we will have a good atmosphere (in the stadium). Everyone has a dream, the tenth, and everyone understands that we can win if we are all united and we can realize the dream.”
Editing by John O'Brien