Mourinho: No mental issue for Real
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has denied that his club have a mental issue when facing German opposition, ahead of Wednesday's Champions League Group D trip to Borussia Dortmund.
Since losing 1-0 to 1860 Munich in a 1966-1967 European Cup last-16 game, Madrid have played 23 competitive games on German soil and won just one - a 2000-2001 Champions League group tie at Bayer Leverkusen.
Los Blancos have drawn on both their previous trips to Dortmund, while their most recent experience in Germany was when Mario Gomez's late strike gave Bayern Munich a 2-1 win in last season's Champions League semi-final first leg.
Bayern's subsequent passage to the final on penalties only seemed to confirm that Madrid suffer against Bundesliga teams, but Mourinho says claims of a mental block are baseless.
"If Real Madrid have historically won few games in Germany it must be because it is hard to win here," Mourinho said. "If we play with teams from other countries that have an inferior level of football, we would have a different result.
"I played once in Germany with Real Madrid and we lost 2-1 because it was against a great opponent. It is hard to play against difficult teams. It is not a psychological issue."
The Portuguese manager believes that Jurgen Klopp's current Dortmund side will also provide a stiff test for his team, but declined to pick out any particular dangermen.
"They are a good team," Mourinho said. "We analyse the rival globally, not individually. They are full of good players and we need to respect them and that is what we are going to do"
With midfielder Sami Khedira fit to start in his home country, Mourinho suggested Michael Essien would continue at left-back, while claiming not to be concerned by the injuries to all his first-choice full-backs.
"It is a difficult game, but not because of the absences," he said. "I do not think about the absences. We have a team and players to play. It is a difficult game because the opponent and the group are difficult."
Madrid keeper Iker Casillas has more experience than his coach of Real's past struggles against Bundesliga sides, having won one, drawn two and lost seven of ten club games he has played in Germany.
"I seem to remember that the last time we won in Germany was against Leverkusen 12 years ago," Casillas said. "We beat them 3-2 and it was difficult. It is always hard to play in Germany."
The Spain international is looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere inside the Westfalenstadion and believes the home support will help Dortmund's players put their recent poor Bundesliga form behind them.
"This is a very exciting, enjoyable game that world football fans will like to watch," he said. "It is a spectacular stadium with fans that really cheer for Borussia. It will not be easy.
"We know that Dortmund are not doing great in the Bundesliga, but this is Europe. Playing against Real Madrid and in front of their fans might motivate them a lot."