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For a club inextricably linked with the UEFA Champions League, a third straight semi-final appearance was not enough to satisfy Real Madrid CF and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, for whom it left a "bitter taste".
"We have managed to reach the semi-finals in the last three seasons. We knocked at the door of where Madrid want to be, but this has left a bitter taste because we could have made it to the final," said the 32-year-old. "However, we have to continue working hard so we can take that extra step and make the final."
"Perhaps it wasn't our best campaign but we came so close after winning the [semi-final second leg] 2-0 and missing late chances," added defender Raúl Albiol. "Overall we were inconsistent but it was a great team effort until the very end."
While Borussia Dortmund proved too strong for Madrid, edging them out 4-3 on aggregate, rivals FC Barcelona also came unstuck against Bundesliga opposition, succumbing 7-0 overall to eventual champions FC Bayern München. "Bayern had a spectacular campaign in the league, while Dortmund have really come to life – they have some great players," said winger Ángel Di María.
Casillas, the sole survivor of the Merengues' last UEFA Champions League-winning legion in 2002, is "sure the moment will come again so long as we prepare for each match with the motivation and desire we have shown already".
"You only need to see what it does to the fans," he continued. "On the street people always ask you about it. In fact they demand more and empower you to give your best in this competition and to become kings of Europe again."
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