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By ESPN Staff

Van Der Vaart: I will fight on at Madrid

Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart admits he has struggled to come to terms with his lack of playing time since his summer move from Hamburg, but has vowed to be patient as he looks to cement a first-team spot.

The Holland international, who turns 26 on Wednesday, has found the transition to Primera Liga football difficult but insists he has not entertained thoughts of leaving the Bernabeu.

"It is not easy to get used to being a substitute because throughout my career I have played almost every week," he said.

"And here, several months after arriving, I find myself on the bench. It is not easy. Besides, I had to search for a home because I lived for three months in a hotel and my wife was still working in Germany. It was not easy.

"At the beginning of the season everything was going well. The vibes were good. Then I do not think we were playing badly, but I went to the bench a few games.

"I signed for five years, but I hope to be here much longer. I want to become a major name at Real Madrid and, of course, win many titles. It is what I always dreamed of."

The Spanish giants, who have won their last seven league matches under Juande Ramos but failed to make inroads into Barcelona's 12-point advantage at the summit, face Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Van der Vaart reckons Rafael Benitez's Reds will be "a little scared" when the first leg takes place in Madrid on February 25.

"We are Real Madrid and I think they are a little scared. We also have good players," he said in an interview with fobazo.

"We will see a great tie, that's for sure. The team is working very hard to get to 100%. In the dressing room we are very keen to do something big in Europe."

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