Having watched Juventus use his side as a starting point for a four-game winning streak, Real Madrid CF coach Bernd Schuster has warned the Bianconeri that the Spanish champions are "hungry for revenge".
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Having watched Juventus use his side as a starting point for a four-game winning streak, Real Madrid CF coach Bernd Schuster has warned the Bianconeri that the Spanish champions are "hungry for revenge" in the rematch at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Goals early in each half from Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri helped Juventus to a 2-1 Matchday 3 victory, ending a run of five matches without a win, and having seen the Turin team triumph in their next three Serie A games including Saturday's 2-0 defeat of AS Roma, Schuster recognises another stern test in the offing. "It's going to be a difficult tie," said the Madrid boss, whose charges trail the visitors by one point in Group H. "You could see the problems they caused us last time. We need to avoid committing the same mistakes and try to win, knowing three points would be a huge step towards qualification. We're going to try to start as strongly as possible."
In contrast to Juve's fine sequence of results, Madrid have struggled somewhat since Matchday 3 – witness Sunday's 1-1 Liga draw at UD Almería. Schuster's side had won seven of their eight matches in all competitions prior to the reverse in Italy, and the trainer believes that setback has cost the Merengues dear. "That result damaged us because we had chances to come away with a draw," said the German, who welcomes back Ruud van Nistelrooy and Míchel Salgado from knee injuries, although Rubén de la Red and Miguel Torres miss out. "There are lots of ways for a team to get back to its best. [Juventus], for example, have used this competition, and a win against us, to begin improving their results. Now they are growing in confidence."
With belief restored to the ranks, visiting coach Claudio Ranieri even thanked Madrid for the turnaround to their campaign. "They helped us realise what we were capable of and allowed us to say 'yes, we can win'," said the 57-year-old, back in Spain after spells at Club Atlético de Madrid and Valencia CF. "We were able to start again from scratch, but with more strength than before. Bernd Schuster said Juventus were not in crisis two weeks ago and I say the same thing about Madrid now. They're a fantastic team, particularly in their own stadium, although like all teams, they are sometimes up and sometimes down."
A long absentee list featuring Jorge Andrade (knee), Cristiano Zanetti (thigh), Jonathan Zebina (achilles), Gianluigi Buffon (thigh), David Trezeguet (knee), Christian Poulsen (thigh) and Dario Knežević (knee) has forced Ranieri to tinker frequently with his players, although results suggest the trainer has found a potent mix in adversity. "I've had to modify my lineup to try to find the right chemistry," he said. "You have to continue to motivate the players you have available in every game. We're proud to be here at this fantastic stadium and in this competition. We have seven points, it's a good return, but we haven't guaranteed qualification yet."