Real Madrid chief Emilio Butragueno says it is a plus for his team that Champions League quarterfinal opponents Borussia Dortmund are not the force they were last season.
The first leg is set for Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday April 2, with the return at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion on Tuesday April 8.
The teams met four times in last season’s competition, with Dortmund having the better of things in the group stages, and then eliminating Madrid at the semifinal stage after a superb 4-1 first leg win in which the Bundesliga side’s striker Robert Lewandowski scored four times.
Butragueno told Canal Plus from Nyon that it seemed this season’s Dortmund were not as strong, but Madrid would take nothing for granted.
“You never know,” the former Blancos striker said. “It appears that there were stronger rivals in the draw. This season they are not playing as well as last season, but we must be very careful. The second leg is away and their stadium has a special magic, their fans support their team a lot. We must go there with a good result in hand. We have hopes of being back here for the semi-final draw.”
Dortmund will be without Lewandowski for the first game this year, and are also likely to be missing key men including Ilkay Gundogan, Neven Subotic, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Sven Bender and Marcel Schmelzer for both matches. Meanwhile Madrid are currently flying and 31 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Butragueno said the loss of Lewandowski in particular could be an advantage for his side.
“Last year we met them four times, and they showed they are a strong team,” he said. “This year we are playing very well, and arrive at this point in good form. Lewandowski is a fundamental player for them, they have other players, but not being able to count on him should affect their game. Hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
Meanwhile, Juergen Klopp admitted that Real Madrid are favourites to qualify for the semifinals, but insisted that there is no chance Dortmund will lie down.
“That’s a good draw,” he said. “If you repeatedly qualify for the final eight of the competition, you have to calculate on getting drawn to the same opponent -- as is the case now.
“It will be two games with an extremely cool atmosphere. We can’t wait for this challenge, and will try and make use of our slim chance.
“It can be an advantage that we play away first. It’s not the time to already raise the flag of surrender.”
Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc added that the German side’s superiority over their Spanish opponents last season may count for something again.
He said: “I do believe that they regard us as a nasty opponent, and you won’t get that out of the minds completely. But, of course, it is a different situation now.
“We sadly have lot of injured players, and that was not the case last season. Moreover we will be without Robert Lewandowski in the first leg in Madrid. But we will give it our all and try to qualify for the semifinals.
“Those matches will be two special days for our fans and for our team and let’s see what comes out of it.”