Juande Ramos remains optimistic that his Real Madrid side could become only the second club to win a UEFA Champions League knockout round tie after losing the home first leg.
Speaking after his team’s 1-0 defeat by Liverpool in the opening game of their last-16 meeting, Ramos said: “If we put on a good performance we’re capable of winning in any stadium.”
“The game was very tight and there were few goalscoring opportunities. They waited for their chance and in the end a set-piece has decided the first leg. Liverpool played as we expected and worked hard not to concede, but what we didn’t expect was to lose a goal the way we did.
“We anticipated a tactical match and tried to search for the opening goal but it wasn’t to be. We now have to go there and try to win. We introduced Guti in an attempt to find that killer ball but it didn’t happen. We had three attackers on the pitch with Guti in support, which I thought was enough to force a goal.
“Winning any tournament is never easy. We’re still alive and have the second leg to play. We’re on the up in the Liga, too, so let’s see how things go. The game’s just finished so I need time to think what we’ll do in the return.
“Let’s see who we’ve got available and we’ll look for the right formula. One goal is not that much. OK, we’re behind but there are 90 minutes left. If we put on a good performance we’re capable of winning in any stadium.
“Liverpool’s strength is their work-rate. They played with a very solid formation of two closed lines which left no space. It’s only half-time, though, and we’re full of hope for the return.”
Rafael Benítez, Liverpool manager was pleased with the win, but cautioned against complacency for the second leg at Anfield in a fortnight’s time.
“The win is important but it’s just one game and we have to do well in the next one,” he said. “For me the main thing is to enjoy the moment but we have to put in a lot more effort to progress. I think that we worked hard tonight. They had more players in attack so they left spaces for us to play behind them.
“Our game was based on trying to score on the counterattack. Torres had a sharp pain in his ankle early on but it wasn’t serious and the doctor said we could keep him on the pitch. In the end he was limping and not looking comfortable so we decided to replace him. We don’t know about him now – maybe he’ll miss some games.
Liverpool started the game without talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard, who began the game on the substitutes bench after failing to recover from a hamstring injury.
“We didn’t know about Gerrard until the last minute,” said Benitez. “He wasn’t fully fit. He needed to do a special warm-up before the match. We wanted to have him ready at the end, just in case.
“(Yossi) Benayoun is a very clever player who is capable of scoring important goals and giving good passes. In football, experience tells you that you have to do your talking on the pitch, not before or after the game. Tonight the players were talking on the pitch in the name of this club, and they were working hard tactically. They deserve all the credit.
“We’ll continue to take things one game at a time. We know the Champions League is a very difficult competition and we still have 90 minutes to play against Madrid. There’s still another game against a good team with very good players who can counter well.