Former Real Madrid CF defender Gabriel Heinze knows exactly how tough Olympique de Marseille's mission will be when his new club host their Group C rivals needing a win to retain hope of progress.
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Former Real Madrid CF defender Gabriel Heinze knows exactly how tough Olympique de Marseille's mission will be when his new club host their Group C rivals on Tuesday with their qualification hopes hanging in the balance.
Currently third in their UEFA Champions League section, Marseille must down Los Merengues to have any realistic chance of reaching the last 16, and they will need a 3-0 success or a four-goal margin of victory if AC Milan secure victory at FC Zürich elsewhere in the pool. "We need to win and the bad thing is that we are not just dependent on ourselves," said Heinze, who joined OM in the summer after two years at the Santiago Bernabéu. "Our job and our objective is to win, but it's going to be difficult because Madrid also have to win because for them a draw is never enough. But we're humble here, as we always are, and we wanted to make sure we'd still have something to fight for in the last match. Hopefully – God willing – things will go well for us, although I know it's going to be a very, very tough match."
OM's last home contest in the competition nonetheless yielded a 6-1 victory over Zürich, and Heinze, who has struck twice in Europe this term, feels the French club's attacking verve could prove telling against his old side. "Why not?" he said. "Any team can get into difficulties. That kind of thing can happen in any match, especially as we'll be at home and we need a positive result. We'll have to attack Real Madrid in numbers, so we'll do everything possible to cause them trouble." The Argentinian international is far from confident that his team can rack up a famous 3-0 triumph, however, particularly after their opponents comfortably beat them by that very same scoreline in the Spanish capital on Matchday 2. "It's not impossible but it's very difficult and we'll be facing Real Madrid, who are not just any old team," he explained.
Whatever the outcome, the 31-year-old is absolutely relishing the chance to come up against his former employers. "The truth is I had beautiful experiences there, so it's a great feeling when you face a club where you were happy and content on and off the pitch," he said. "I was a happy man at Real Madrid because I adapted well on and off the pitch and I still have great friends there, but I left the club and the city, which will always have a place in my heart. The overwhelming feeling will be of nostalgia, but I'm a professional and now I have to defend the colours of my club."