Barcelona would probably concede that they lost their UEFA Champion League semi-final in the Camp Nou last Tuesday when they went down to a crushing 2-0 defeat. Yet Real Madrid CF made heavy work of the second leg after a spirited performance from the Catalan side.
'It wasn't easy'
Indeed, it took a moment of sheer brilliance from Raúl González to take the wind out of Barcelona's sails and the fans' favourite was honest in his praise for his opponents. "We were made to suffer," he said. "Barcelona fought hard but in the end we're on the point of winning our ninth European crown. It wasn't an easy game but thanks to the support from the fans we managed to get through."
Full of praise
Madrid head coach Vicente Del Bosque was also full of praise for the visitors. "I want to honour Barcelona's attitude, it was great," he said. "But our individuals, especially Raúl, have been crucial for this semi-final. Maybe Barcelona have a better squad, but we have stars who can decide a match. The first leg was the key. There we played in an intelligent way. Today, due to the circumstances, Barcelona were better, but all we needed to do was keep an eye on the score."
Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be Madrid's opponents in the final at Hampden Park on 15 May after their impressive victory over Manchester United FC in the other semi-final on Tuesday night, but Del Bosque's side will start as clear favourites. Yet Raúl is not underestimating the German side. "It should be a good final against Leverkusen," he said. "They are very worthy finalists but once again a Spanish side has reached the final which is very positive."
'A very sad day'
Luis Enrique, the former Madrid player who was Barcelona's most impressive performer over the two legs, was devastated by the defeat. He said: "It's a very sad day because we wanted to dedicate a victory to our fans. They are both worthy finalists. The best side on the day will win."
But Barcelona emerged from the all-Spanish encounter with great credit and head coach Carles Rexach was far from down-hearted. "Losing in this way is very frustrating," he said. "But there is no difference between Barcelona and Real Madrid, we just lacked that bit of luck in front goal."
'It will help our morale'
He added: "We had the opportunities to win the match. We controlled it especially in the second half. The match will help our morale. Now we have to qualify for next season's Champions League."
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