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Brilliant Brazilian backs Madrid

Published: Saturday 11 May 2002, 23.40CET
Why Real Madrid CF's Roberto Carlos cannot wait for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League final.
Published: Saturday 11 May 2002, 23.40CET

Brilliant Brazilian backs Madrid

Why Real Madrid CF's Roberto Carlos cannot wait for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League final.

There is a star-studded advert for a particular brand of football boot that is hard to avoid on television at the moment. The most glamorous players from around Europe come together and display their breath-taking skills in a three-a-side tournament. Inevitably Roberto Carlos takes centre stage.

'Fans want Champions League'
Real Madrid CF's Brazilian full-back will be aiming to display those unique talents in the UEFA Champions League final on Wednesday, when his side take on Bayer 04 Leverkusen of Germany. He is relishing the prospect. "The most important thing was the league, but it is clear the supporters want to win the Champions League," he said, as Madrid seek to claim Europe's top club prize for an unprecedented ninth time.

Madrid's Novena
"We want the 'Novena' [the ninth] to finish a very good season in the best possible way," continued the 29-year-old. "Real are favourites because of the higher quality of our players. But Bayer know how to play football, they are very dangerous and are having a great run at the moment."

'A brilliant season'
"When I arrived here, I thought I could win a Champions League," said the player, who has been at Madrid since 1996. "I already have two but I want a third. That is the difference at this club. Despite the fact we did not win the [Primera División] title this season I think we are performing brilliantly, better than in previous years, especially at Bernabéu. The problem has been that we have had many difficulties playing away. But our supporters are happy.

Ready to go
"In the final you forget everything - injuries, previous matches. We will have had four or five days to relax and that will help. Physically we are very strong, which is thanks to Javier Miñano [the club's fitness trainer] who has worked well with the team. We have made huge efforts but now we are ready.

Respect to Leverkusen
"What we have to fear about Leverkusen is their motivation. This season they have fought till the end for the 1. Bundesliga and reached the German Cup final. In football you cannot talk about losers when it is clear they have had a very good season. We respect them because they are a very good team.

'Don't know meaning of losing'
"It has been a very complicated season for us but we do not know the meaning of failure. We have worked hard to perform well in all competitions and I think we have achieved those objectives."

Poor Zé Roberto
Roberto Carlos also had a word for his Brazilian team-mate Zé Roberto who plays for Leverkusen but will miss the final having been booked in the semi-final against Manchester United FC. "I spoke to Zé Roberto last week and he was very disappointed about missing the final. But there will be a Brazilian playing for Bayer in Lucio."

Reason to beware
On a parting note - one that gives Leverkusen reason to beware - Roberto Carlos offered his prediction for the big match. "I hope the best team wins, and I think it will be Real Madrid." Leverkusen have been warned.

Last updated: 12/05/02 1.54CET

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