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When Michel Bastos made his Brazil debut in November, the left-sided player with a talent for free-kicks gained further comparison with Roberto Carlos. Coincidentally, if he wishes to emulate his compatriot in winning the UEFA Champions League, his Olympique Lyonnais side will need to knock out Real Madrid CF on Wednesday.
Lyon lead the first knockout round tie 1-0 thanks to Jean II Makoun's superb goal in France, giving them every chance in the Santiago Bernabéu return. Les Gones have had mixed fortunes in 2009/10 but helped eliminate Liverpool FC from this season's competition and Bastos concurred with the thoughts of Karim Benzema, who believes his former side play their best against the strongest clubs.
"Since the beginning of the season we have played well against big teams, and sometimes against small teams we struggle," Bastos, who will miss the second leg with a muscle injury, told UEFA.com. "I agree with Karim; Lyon have talented players who have always performed well against big teams." However, the 26-year-old is in no doubt Madrid will also raise their game. "It might be another story in front of their supporters, in their stadium," Bastos added, "and we know that they will be wanting to do well, as we know they kind of blew it [in Lyon]."
That said, he is not afraid of the Bernabéu atmosphere. "When I hear the supporters shout I put into my head that this is for me, it is extra motivation for me," Bastos said. "I think that to play in stadiums like these is fantastic. Every player in the world would love to be on that pitch. I think it is a great opportunity, even if we know that there will be thousands of supporters in front of us – 70, 80 [thousand], I don't know. On the pitch, your opponents have two legs like you, they have the same abilities, and it's all decided there."
One opponent may indeed have "only two legs" but he most certainly does impress Bastos. "Right now, not a lot of people are talking about him, but he is a player that I meet when we are in the national team: it's Kaká," Bastos said. "He has impressed me since he was at Milan. He is being criticised at the moment, but he's a player I appreciate a lot, in terms of his physical quality, the quality of his game. He's someone who works a lot for the team. It's not [just] because he is Brazilian, but I love his game, I love his football."
Bastos, of course, is hoping to be alongside Kaká in a FIFA World Cup-winning team this summer and he will not soon forget the thrill of his debut against Oman in November. "Well ... that's almost impossible to describe," he said. "It was a dream to wear the Brazilian shirt. I have worked very hard. I started playing at a young age; I started when I was 13. It was my dream to become a professional player and play for Brazil, and I've achieved it."
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