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As he prepares for his sixth UEFA Champions League game against Juventus in five years, Real Madrid CF goalkeeper Iker Casillas knows from experience that "from very little" the Bianconeri "can create a lot of danger".
Lack of focus
Casillas conceded his seventh and eighth goals in matches against the Italian giants when Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri scored on Matchday 3 in Turin. Speaking before the rematch in Madrid, the Spanish international suggested both he and his team-mates were punished for a lack of concentration in the 2-1 defeat on 21 October. "The first mistake we made in that game was conceding so early," he said. "They stormed out of the blocks and we should have been more switched on. When we regained our normal rhythm, they hit us again early in the second half."
Picking the ball out of his net has become a common occurrence for the UEFA EURO 2008™ winner this season. Third-placed Madrid have shipped 13 goals in nine Liga outings, seven more than at the same stage last term, yet the man from the Madrid suburb of Mostoles is not overly concerned by those statistics. "It looks like we might concede from every opposition attack," he said. "Last year, it was the opposite and we went five or six games without conceding at all. It's just a bad run and we're not that worried about it. If the opposition score after a very good attacking move, there's nothing you can do but applaud."
Twice a UEFA Champions League winner with the Merengues, Casillas is desperate to get his hands on the trophy for a third time. A footballing veteran at the age of 27 – he plays his 90th match in Europe's élite club competition on Wednesday, having also made 318 Liga appearances for Madrid – the shot-stopper remains calm about the challenge in Group H. "I think our results this season have been good," he said of the group's second-placed side, "but we know we can't afford any more slip-ups. We're in a comfortable position knowing that if we beat Juventus, we're almost in the next round."
Ever the diplomat, Casillas ended the news conference by offering his support to Madrid's city rivals Club Atlético de Madrid for their game at Liverpool FC on Tuesday. "I'm sure others may feel differently but I'll be going for Atlético as they are a Spanish team and, of course, from Madrid," he said. "I'm happy they're back in the Champions League and I hope they have a good tournament."
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