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Bale expects Real revenge

Updated: 2014-04-02 08:39
By Agence France-Presse in Madrid ( China Daily)

Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale believes his side has recovered from back-to-back league losses as it looks to exact revenge on Borussia Dortmund for a Champions League semifinal defeat last season.

Bale scored twice as Real responded from losing to Barcelona and Sevilla last week to pound Rayo Vallecano 5-0 on Saturday to remain in third place in La Liga, three points behind first-place Atletico Madrid.

However, it is a Champions League quarterfinal clash against the Germans that has whetted the Welshman's appetite for what he said are the type of games for which he left Tottenham Hotspur for Real last summer.

"I think it was important we responded well and got everything back on track," Bale told Real Madrid TV.

"We are massively looking forward to the Dortmund game.

"That is why you want to be playing football: to play in the big games.

"We are fully focused on Wednesday night and hopefully we can do a good job."

Bale will once again join Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in a fearsome Madrid frontline with Ronaldo looking to equal Lionel Messi's record of 14 goals in a Champions League season.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti will make three changes from the side that started against Rayo, with Iker Casillas, Marcelo and Luka Modric set to replace Diego Lopez, Fabio Coentrao and Asier Illarramendi.

Dortmund had the upper hand against Madrid in four meetings between the clubs last season's competition.

Juergen Klopp's contingent took four points from a possible six in the group stage before stunningly eliminating the nine-time European champion 4-3 on aggregate in the semifinals.

However, Klopp will have a more difficult time in selecting his side this time round as the Germans have been ravaged by injuries.

Nevan Subotic, Marcel Schmelzer, Jakub Blasz-czykowski, Ilkay Gundogan and Sven Bender are all injured, while leading scorer Robert Lewandowski - who notched all four of his side's goals in the 4-1 semifinal, first-leg win over Real last season - is unavailable due to a suspension.

However, despite his selection problems, Klopp said his squad has not regressed from last season.

"It has been a difficult season since the start," he told Spanish sports daily Marca.

"We have faced extraordinary challenges and an unprecedented injury crisis.

"I, at least, have never seen anything like it. But, with all that, we are in position to achieve our goals when the season started. Therefore, we cannot talk about being weaker or less strong. We are focused on the task at hand.

"We are second in the German league, in the semifinals of the Cup and the quarterfinals of the Champions League. That is to say, exactly the same as last season.

"And, just like last season, we finished on top of the hardest Champions League group, which should not be forgotten. We will never give up in our effort to succeed."

Klopp is expected to use Marco Reus, who scored a hat-trick in Saturday's 3-2 win at lowly Stuttgart, or Gabonese international Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang in an unusual role as the lone striker to compensate for the loss of Lewandowski.

(China Daily 04/02/2014 page23)