Stéphane Chapuisat is predicting an "incredible" match when Borussia Dortmund host Real Madrid CF on Wednesday in the first instalment of their UEFA Champions League semi-final.
The former Switzerland striker knows just how intense an occasion a last-four meeting between the clubs in this competition can be – he was in the Schwarzgelben team beaten 2-0 on aggregate by Madrid 15 years ago – and believes this latest tie is too close to call.
In an exclusive interview with UEFA.com, the 43-year-old, a European champion in 1997 when Dortmund overcame Juventus in Munich, discusses his hopes for the contest, the group stage encounters between the sides this season and his memories of their 1998 matches.
UEFA.com: What do you expect from the Dortmund-Madrid tie?
Stéphane Chapuisat: It will be a great semi-final. They played each other in the group phase and that's important for Dortmund – because in the last few years Spanish teams have been very strong but they won at home against Real [2-1]. They have beaten them once so they know they can defeat Real, and they got a 2-2 draw away. The first leg will be an incredible match. It will be 50-50, even if most people see the Spanish as favourites.
UEFA.com: Are there lessons to take from the teams' group stage games last autumn or are semi-finals something completely different?
Chapuisat: They will be completely different games. One of the group matches was in October, the other in November. Mentally, it is very important for the Dortmund players to know they have beaten Real Madrid and that it's possible. They remember the systems used by Real. Mentally, it is important to know you can beat Real Madrid, that is the most important thing.
UEFA.com: What do you remember about the Dortmund-Madrid semi-final in 1998 in which you featured?
Chapuisat: We played the first leg in Madrid. It was the funniest game in the history of the Champions League. The supporters pulled so hard on the fences that they broke the goalposts, and there was no spare set in the stadium. So we had to wait an hour before starting the game. It is the one memory that sticks with us. They were better than us in the first leg and won 2-0. In the return leg we played a better game but didn't take our chances and it ended 0-0.
UEFA.com: In the previous round Dortmund had beaten Bayern thanks to a decisive goal from you. You must have been ecstatic about the prospect of a semi-final, so must appreciate what the players and fans of Dortmund are experiencing right now?
Chapuisat: Yes, of course. It was a bit like when we won the Champions League [in 1997] – we couldn't become German champions so we focused a bit more on those [European] games. They were two great matches. It was so close to the final, you do not experience that every year. You have the opportunity to reach the final, which is something extraordinary for the club and the players.
UEFA.com: Being so close to winning the European Cup could also result in serious disappointment in the event of elimination. Can you be satisfied with reaching that stage of the competition or is it not enough?
Chapuisat: When you're in a semi-final, you want to go all the way. You have to play two big games. If you play well and lose, well, you must accept it, but when you are so close you cannot say it was nice to be in the semi-final.
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