Defender Gabriel Heinze is not about to take Real Madrid CF's opening Group H opponents FC BATE Borisov lightly, saying: "Although one name can carry more weight than another, on the pitch we're all equal."
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Real Madrid CF's Gabriel Heinze says he and his team-mates cannot wait to launch their bid for a tenth European Champion Clubs' Cup against Belarussian debutants FC BATE Borisov on Wednesday. "Who wouldn't want to play in the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid? Whoever lacks motivation for this competition needs to take a look at themselves."
Fans of the Spanish side may feel there are tougher tests to come in Group H, against UEFA Cup holders FC Zenit St. Petersburg and Juventus, yet Heinze believes Madrid must be fully focused when BATE visit the Santiago Bernabéu. "I respect every team," the 30-year-old Argentinian international said. "Football is so evenly balanced these days and although one name can carry more weight than another, on the pitch we're all equal. If we don't pay attention we could be in for a bad time. The Champions League is a competition that always requires the maximum effort and even more so when you play for this team."
The Liga champions have begun the 2008/09 domestic season with an away loss followed by a home win and coach Bernd Schuster may be concerned about a total of five goals conceded in those matches, including four from dead-ball situations. "We've spoken about the problems we've been having from set-pieces but it's not a general defensive problem," the former Manchester United FC defender noted. "A mistake from a set-piece is a team mistake and cannot be blamed just on the defenders or the goalkeeper. I'm not especially worried although I do accept that a lack of concentration is the cause, and we've been working on avoiding that in the future."
Madrid may have failed to get past the first knockout round in the last four campaigns, yet they go into their 13th UEFA Champions League season tipped by many to take the title. Heinze can understand why. "The Champions League is a competition that's different for everybody and each person will have their own opinion," he said. "I want Madrid to be favourites and for the Spanish teams to do well. Our expectations are high and we are all really looking forward to this. [Winning the tournament] is one more objective that this team has."