"We have the ability to go a long way," said FC Porto midfielder Casemiro ahead of the quarter-finals as the Brazilian international bids to emulate his achievement last year.
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It feels like something big is stirring at FC Porto this season. With a youthful crop of highly talented players displaying a thrilling brand of attacking football, they were a name to avoid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw. One man key to that surge to the last eight, midfielder Casemiro, is dreaming big.
"We're getting better every day, with every match, and I'm sure there is even further potential for improvement," warned the 23-year-old Brazilian international ahead of the quarter with FC Bayern München on 15 and 21 April.
"We're among the best eight sides in Europe. We are obviously doing well but we have a very long path ahead of us. We've already shown we have the ability to go a long way, but we have to take it game by game. We have to think about playing well now, and then in the semi-finals and then in the final."
On loan from Real Madrid CF, Casemiro has proved a linchpin in the centre of the park for the Dragons, raising his game to the next level in Portugal thanks to the regular football provided. "I have managed to find the necessary rhythm," he said. "The club, the people who work here, the coaching staff and the players have all helped me a lot on and off the pitch. I've had the run of matches I needed. When you play regularly, you develop from game to game."
His performances were rewarded in the 4-0 round of 16 second-leg thrashing of FC Basel 1893, when the former São Paulo FC prospect curled in a beautiful free-kick. "It was definitely a very special moment for me. I've been working on it for a long time and it was the second free-kick I'd taken from such a distance and I thank God for the happiness I experienced when it went in."
Having made six appearances in the 2013/14 competition as Madrid lifted the trophy, Casemiro is desperate to taste glory again. "Winning a competition like this is simply extraordinary," he said. "I don't have the words to describe the happiness a player feels when they win something like this. I would just say we have to try to emulate what Real Madrid achieved last season, taking it game by game."
Set to return to the Santiago Bernabéu once this campaign closes, Casemiro's time with Porto has just a few months to run but he is determined it should end in success. "When you hear the Champions League anthem, it gives you goosebumps," added the No6, who will be doing his utmost to hear it more than twice more this spring.