Santillana backs Real for fightback
Real Madrid legend Santillana says the club are capable of pulling off a roaring comebacks in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The days since Wednesday night's shock 4-1 first leg defeat in Dortmund have been filled with stories of Madrid's famous past remontadas, with glorious nights at the Bernabeu against Derby County, Inter Milan and Borussia Moenchengladbach being lovingly recalled. Fans and pundits hoping that Jose Mourinho's current side can pull off a similarly historic result.
Former blancos centre-forward Santillana (real name Carlos Alonso Gonzalez) told AS that the tradition began against English league champions Derby in the last-16 of the 1975-76 European Cup, when he scored as a side including internationals Colin Todd, Roy McFarland, Bruce Rioch, Archie Gemmill and Kevin Hector was overwhelmed at the Bernabeu.
"We had lost 4-1 over there," Santillana said. "At the Bernabeu we equalled that result, we went to extra-time and scored another. That is where the special meaning of the remontada began. It came with the help of the fans. You could fit 120,000 people in the Bernabeu and they made sure you left your soul out there. We pressured them high, we went in strong into tackles because the referees let you do it. And playing better or worse we said to the opponent - 'Here we are'."
The European remontadas continued into the 1980s against teams such as Anderlecht (6-1 in 1985-86 UEFA Cup), Borussia Moenchengladbach (4-0 in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup) and Inter Milan (5-1, also in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup, which Madrid then won).
After that first leg in Milan, Madrid attacker Juanito told Italian TV that "Noventa minuti en el Bernabeu son molto longo". This unique mix of Spanish and Italian, meaning 90 minutes at the Bernabeu are very long, has become legendary in Madrid.
Santillana, who scored twice in extra-time to cap the comeback against Inter, said in those days the players felt that whatever scoreline they suffered away, they could make it up back at the Bernabeu.
"We had a lot of confidence at the Bernabeu," he said. "I am of the old Madrid. When we lost heavily away, we all got in the same shower and hatched a plot. First there was Amancio, Pirri, Velazquez... then Juanito, Camacho, Stielike, San Jose, and me. Our courage and rage made us react."
This year's Madrid team are capable of something similar, the 56-times capped Spanish international said.
"What Borussia did to us in Dortmund is what we have to do to them here," he said. "Why can't we score three or four? We had quality too, which is what Benzema, Ozil and Cristiano must show now. Who played well in Dortmund? Lewandowski, Gotze, Reus and Gundogan... the players who had to play well. And they put the foot in too. That is how they beat us. Force and quality.
"Now it is Madrid who must go for it, but with a cool head. The communion between the fans and the players will be there. But they need to show the right attitude so that the public gets behind them. Then they will have their chances."