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Confident Real ready for Anfield atmosphere

sports Updated: Mar 09, 2009 10:47 IST

AFP
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Real Madrid's veteran defender Michel Salgado knows what it feels like to beat Liverpool at Anfield having triumphed 1-0 with former club Celta Vigo in a UEFA Cup match there a decade ago.

He now believes Real can overturn their 1-0 first leg deficit when they meet Liverpool in Tuesday's Champions League duel.

Real were out of sorts in a fortunate 1-1 draw with derby rivals Atelico Madrid on Saturday as they fell six points behind Barcelona in the title race and their coach Juande Ramos has openly admitted that Europe could be a better hope for silverware this season.

"It was a great Celta team back then but nevertheless it was quite a shock to win at Anfield," Salgado told Real's homepage. "It is a very special stadium, different to all the rest.

"It's atmosphere makes you do your best, which is why I've been saying it's possible to win there, especially if you are Real Madrid. We will enjoy the atmosphere at the stadium."

Liverpool sat back in the first leg in Madrid and scored a vital late away goal through Youssi Benayoun but Madrid's Portuguese stopper Pepe believes Liverpool will come out to attack and that will leave gaps for Real to exploit.

"It will be different to the first match because at Anfield I don't think Liverpool will be as defensive as they were at the Santiago Bernabeu," said Pepe. "We have to take advantage of that to qualify for the next round."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is back to fitness after missing the Real match through injury but Pepe believes Rafa Benitez's side are so strong because they function as a unit.

"What concerns me is Liverpool's collective strength," said Pepe. "They all work hard and know their roles on the pitch. They all have quality and in Madrid we didn't notice Gerrard's absence too much. We have to be very focused if we want to win this match."

Real coach Juande Ramos admitted the performance against Atletico was below par but said his team were now psyched up for the trip to Anfield as they bid to win a 10th European Cup with their last triumph coming back in 2002.

"We always do our best on the pitch, but we don't always achieve what we want," explained Ramos. "We were anxious to play the derby and we are very excited about the match in Anfield. We must now think about how to make a comeback in the knock-out stage.

"We are still alive in both La Liga and the Champions League, and we want to stay that way. We will work along the same lines and learn from our mistakes, always keeping an eye on both competitions.

"It will be a tough game full of passion. The players are fired up to produce a good performance in Liverpool and give the fans something to cheer about."

Real have failed to get past the quarter-finals since 1993 and Ramos, who only has a six-month contract until the end of the season, could do with a good Champions League run to convince the demanding Madrid hierarchy to keep him on for next season.

In the league, Real are six points behind Barca and Ramos - who has won 10 out of his 12 league matches in charge - believes the champions are capable of overtaking Barca in the home straight.

"We are six points behind now but it is not insurmountable," said Ramos. "It is just two games and Barcelona still have to come to the Bernabeu. There are 12 games left and a lot still to play for."