Xabi Alonso, set for his seventh UEFA Champions League semi-final and fourth with Real Madrid CF, hopes they can take that "last little step" against FC Bayern München.
Article top media content
In the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid CF for the fourth successive campaign, Xabi Alonso is desperate for the Merengues to take that "last little step" and reach their first showpiece since 2002.
The holding midfielder started all six games over the course those last-four ties, suffering disappointment in 2010/11 against an FC Barcelona side coached by Josep Guardiola, FC Bayern München the following season on penalties and, 12 months ago, Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern, with Guardiola now at the helm, provide the opposition again in what will be the teams' sixth meeting at this juncture of Europe's top club competition and Alonso knows the importance of a disciplined, collective effort if Madrid are to overcome the holders and edge closer to winning a much-coveted tenth continental title.
"We need the involvement of the entire team," said the Spanish international, a scorer in Liverpool FC's memorable comeback victory against AC Milan in the 2005 final. "At this point it is very important to attack and defend in a block.
"Against Bayern, with the characteristics they have, if we don't play well together we may lose control, but we're working on it. It's the fourth consecutive year we have got to the semi-finals and we want to take that last little step. Our motivation is absolute and the concentration we need to have is high."
Like much of the footballing world, the 32-year-old has keenly observed how his compatriot Guardiola has sought to improve and put his stamp on a squad that completed a domestic and European treble in 2012/13.
"Bayern's base is very similar to the team which won the Champions League last year, but [under Guardiola] you will see different formations during the game, such as 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Bayern have many players who compete at a high level. They know how to play these type of matches. We have to be careful."
Madrid go into the first leg on a high after defeating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final last Wednesday and having scored 13 times without reply in their past three league games. Bayern, in contrast, have registered just one victory in four Bundesliga outings – 2-0 on Saturday against lowly TSV Eintracht Braunschweig – since wrapping up the German title in record time a month ago.
"Bayern are a great team but we are in good form at the moment and nobody is favourite," said Alonso.