With the expectation of winning a tenth European Cup growing among supporters after Real Madrid CF's progress to the quarter-finals, full-back Marcelo insisted any road to success would be a long and hard one.
The Liga leaders made sure of their place in the last eight by following up a 1-1 draw at PFC CSKA Moskva with a 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabéu. Gonzalo Higuaín struck before the break and two Cristiano Ronaldo goals either side of a Karim Benzema effort ensured a convincing margin. Even so, Marcelo explained that José Mourinho's team were not at their best on the night.
"The first half wasn't great from us but after the restart – and thanks to our coach – we managed to position ourselves better and the goals came," the Brazilian international said. "The boss always helps us in these situations, we have an understanding with him. CSKA did well in the first half while in the second we adjusted to the game more. It was a very difficult match but then we always knew it was going to be."
Prior to this first meeting of the clubs on Spanish soil, Mourinho had perhaps mulled over who to start up front. In the event the in-form Higuaín was picked ahead of Benzema, yet it turned out that both men took advantage of their time on the pitch, something Marcelo believes augurs well for the future.
"Higuaín and Benzema – along with Ronaldo – are all very good attackers and I am happy for all three tonight," the 23-year-old said. "At the back, we try to defend well so that they have their chances of scoring the important goals up front and we want to continue on that path."
With Friday's quarter-final draw approaching, Marcelo said he and his team-mates would be prepared to face any of their seven possible opponents. "
We are not afraid of anyone and will happily play against whoever comes out," he said. "Having said that, we know that our fans want to win the UEFA Champions League but we are going to have to work hard in every single game from here on in to achieve that goal."
Benzema, meanwhile, echoed Marcelo's sentiments after coming off the bench to register his fifth goal in eight UEFA Champions League outings this season before teeing up Ronaldo for his second of the night. "In the quarter-finals all the teams are hard to beat, but to win the Champions League you have to be ready to beat anyone," he said. "The atmosphere in our dressing room is great. We are all united and that's the way it must be to be successful."
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