A large deficit, a long absentee list and lethal opposition were not a potent enough mix to entirely blot out Robert Lewandowski's sense of optimism as he spoke to the press about Borussia Dortmund's UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid CF.
The Dortmund forward served a one-match ban in the 3-0 defeat in Madrid but, unlike a host of injured or suspended team-mates, is back to boost Jürgen Klopp's squad for Tuesday's second leg. Although Lewandowski scored four goals against the Merengues at the BVB Stadion Dortmund in the clubs' semi-final opener last season, this last-eight tie has assumed a quite different complexion following last week's events in the Spanish capital.
"Last year things were a bit different. If people think I could score four goals again, that is a bit crazy," the No9 said of Madrid's return visit. "But we still have a minimal chance. We are playing in Dortmund and we are dangerous here. We want to give everything and play for 90 to 95 minutes."
The Bundesliga's second-placed side were made to suffer at the Santiago Bernabéu where Gareth Bale, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo all found the target. It was painful viewing for Lewandowski, watching back in Germany. "I was sad that I could not play in Madrid," the 25-year-old admitted. "I saw the first leg at home and was almost more nervous than when on the pitch. It was very difficult for me and I hope I never have to miss a game like that again. Tomorrow will not be easy either."
Dortmund ran out 4-3 aggregate winners against the Liga heavyweights last spring, yet the ingredients for this encounter are totally contrasting. "Madrid are in top form," said the Polish international, before citing a raft of injuries that accounts for Neven Subotić, Marcel Schmelzer, Jakub Błaszczykowski, İlkay Gündoğan and Sven Bender. "Last year, we were a different side. We have many injured players – but also lots of other good players and we still have lots of potential."
That last upbeat note was the prelude to Lewandowski waxing lyrical about his four campaigns as a BVB player, which will end when he joins FC Bayern München this summer. The striker, who has notched 71 goals in 126 league games since arriving from KKS Lech Poznań, said: "When I joined Dortmund from Poznań, I knew I would improve. I have trained hard every year and wanted to become a better player. First I played in the Europa League, then the Champions League. I have had four incredible years here. And it is not over yet."
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