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Feb 25, 2009

Madrid's Pepe looking to outmuscle Torres

Real Madrid defender Pepe has issued a warning to Liverpool'sFernando Torres ahead of his trip to the Bernabeu on Wednesday, claiming he loves the physical side of the game.

The Brazilian-born centre-back has a reputation in Spain as one of the toughest defenders around and claimed that he will use his strength to bully the Liverpool striker in their Champions League last-16 clash.

He told the Sun: ''I love going face-to-face with a big powerful striker like Torres because I'm made to go clattering into challenges and there's nothing I enjoy better than massive physical battles.

''We are both strong but I have a big advantage in that he's got to play with the ball and I don't. The bigger, stronger and better my opponent the more I like the clash.

''Football's a contact sport and strikers often give defenders like me a right good kicking off the ball and nobody says anything because we centre-halves are tough. But as long as I go for the ball and not the man, then there's nothing better than using all the time I've spent in the gym to crash into bodies.''

The defender, who is a Portuguese international after gaining citizenship in August 2007, is confident that he can nullify the threat posed by Torres, although is wary of being sent off for his combative style of play.

The 25-year-old added: ''I've always had fame for being sent off and at the beginning of my career I'd be red-carded about every three games.

''Now there are so many cameras covering ever inch of every Real game you've got to be smart about when you dive in. What's more, I've got big long legs and can slide into the tackle and haul back any advantage he's gained.''

Torres, despite his reputation as one of the game's best finishers, is still waiting for his first goal at the Bernabeu after failing to score in six years with their bitter rivals Atletico Madrid.

The Spaniard admitted: ''I really don't know why I struggled so many times against Real. Maybe I tried too hard because I wanted it so much.

''Every striker has a club he finds it easy to score against and for some reason mine seemed to be Barcelona. I think I got more against them than any other team in La Liga.

''If you don't play for Barca or Real in Spain, then people just don't rate you as highly but moving to Liverpool has given me that chance to show I've arrived.''

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