Madrid qualified for the knockout stages by virtue of their victory at Rosenborg BK on Matchday 4. With so many star names - Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Julio Baptista and Iván Helguera - missing the England captain revelled in the extra responsibility. But even he had to pass up centre stage in favour of the influential Guti who helped engineer the first goal before sweeping home the second in a 2-0 win.
With a fully-fit squad, Guti can generally count on no more than a peripheral role at the Santiago Bernabéu which is indicative of the fabulous strength coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo can call upon. The morale-denting defeat by Olympique Lyonnais on Matchday 1 has been followed by three successive wins and Beckham believes Madrid can sustain a better challenge than in the last two seasons.
'All the way'
"We are getting into our form now and the more games we play the better it is," Beckham told uefa.com. "We have a lot of players out but we work hard and defend well and we've got the players who can score goals. Of course we have a chance to go all the way in the competition but we have to keep working hard.
"We needed a stronger squad after last year and we've got that now with the players who were brought in over the summer," he continued. "And I'm sure the manager is still looking to bring more players in. You have to have a big squad. It was the case at Manchester United [FC] when we won the competition in 1999, you have to have players who can come in so that the injured ones are not missed."
Beckham has also been impressed by the form of Jonathan Woodgate, though the defender suffered another injury scare on Sunday when he was forced off after 20 minutes against Real Zaragoza with another problem to his left thigh. "Also Woody [Woodgate] has come back from his injury and done very well," Beckham said. "I always said he was one of the best defenders in England and he's proving that now."
Beckham celebrated his 100th appearance for the Spanish club in Norway and was pleased with how things went, despite the fact that a number of niggling injuries had prevented him from training for the previous four or five days. "I have had problems with my back, my ankle and my hamstring but I reached a milestone for myself with my 100th game and for it to come in the UEFA Champions League is an honour and very special for me," he said.
"It's very important that if we are to progress in the competition that we prove we can win at places like this even with so many big players missing," he added. "The secret is to work together as a team. If you can work together and stay together you can overcome these difficulties."
However, Beckham knows the level of competition will become fiercer now the first knockout round is taking shape with FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC joining Lyon and Madrid in booking their place. He said: "There are so many to choose from I wouldn't like to pick out one team as being favourites at this stage." He added: "If I had a choice I'd like to play Manchester United in the final but that's only because I'm a fan. We will have to see what happens as the tournament goes on."
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