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Pepe refusing to look too far ahead

Cristiano Ronaldo says that Real Madrid CF are on track to reach the final yet Pepe contends "we have a very long road ahead" before the quarter-final visit of APOEL FC.

Pepe speaks to the assembled media in Madrid on Tuesday
Pepe speaks to the assembled media in Madrid on Tuesday ©Getty Images

Three up from their quarter-final first leg against APOEL FC and safe in the knowledge they will not meet domestic rivals FC Barcelona in the semis, Real Madrid CF look little more than a stone's throw from May's UEFA Champions League final. Portuguese international centre-back Pepe sees the situation differently, however.

Madrid have been in dominant form in the Liga and are six points clear of Barcelona – their vanquishers in both Europe and the league last term. With a 3-0 lead from Nicosia to protect in Madrid on Wednesday, José Mourinho's team also seem likely to set up a semi-final with either FC Bayern München or Olympique de Marseille. Then comes the showpiece in Munich on 19 May.

"To reach the UEFA Champions League final we have a very long road ahead of us," Pepe told Tuesday's media conference. "We have to concentrate on playing our football and on the opponents we face. If we get to the final we will look at that game when it comes. Of course we hope to get there. The team are doing very well at the moment and we have to continue like that."

Suspended for Madrid's last two Liga assignments, the 29-year-old Pepe is keener than most to make an impact at the Santiago Bernabéu this midweek. "We all have our faults but I don't think any of mine impede me from wearing the Madrid shirt," he said. "I defend the club's colours with body and soul and do so for the fans that come to see us."

One of the Merengues' undoubtedly key figures in this season's success is Pepe's countryman Cristiano Ronaldo, scorer of 53 goals in 51 games for club and country in 2011/12. "We achieved a very important result away from home," Ronaldo told Madrid's website of the APOEL away leg. "Of course, anything can happen in football and we require a further 10% to complete the job, but we will not want to miss this great opportunity to reach the semi-finals. We are on the right track in terms of winning the Champions League and Liga.

"In Madrid, things have gone well for me over the last two and a half years. I am performing at a high level right now and want to continue doing so. At the most critical moments we learn most about ourselves and it's also during these times we can see how far we can go in life. This is when you find out the great players and the best people."