Real Madrid news

Raul: Champions League is our best bet

January 28, 2009

Real Madrid captain Raul refuses to concede the Primera Liga title race is as good as over, but admits his side's best hope of silverware this season probably lies in the Champions League.

Madrid have won their last five league matches, beating the likes of Villarreal and Valencia in the process, but the two-time reigning champions have still not managed to make a dent in the 12-point advantage held by runaway leaders Barcelona.

"At this point it's possible that it will be easier to win the 10th (European Cup) than the league, seeing how Barca have not suffered a drop in form," said Raul, whose side will play Liverpool in the last 16.

"Moreover, the league does not depend on us, where as the Champions League does. We must first depend on ourselves to be better than Liverpool and after that we can dream.

"It's not impossible to overcome a deficit of 12 points, but if they (Barca) don't lose points it is not going to be possible to catch them.

"The season is very long and they could still slip up. What we cannot do is allow ourselves to slip up. Right now they seem an unstoppable team."

The huge points difference is not the only area where Madrid are coming up short compared with their arch-rivals.

Madrid may have improved results-wise under new coach Juande Ramos, who has won six of seven competitive games since replacing Bernd Schuster, but questions have been raised about the entertainment factor, certainly when judged against that produced by Barca.

While Pep Guardiola's side continue to plunder goals left, right and centre, Madrid have found strikes much harder to come by and three of their last four wins at the Bernabeu have been 1-0.

Raul admits it is something they need to correct, saying in AS: "We are the first people who would like to score more goals, but our opponents make things difficult for us.

"You need to continue improving with hard work and so that the fans enjoy more the coming games.

"They compare us with what Barcelona are doing. The fans at the Bernabeu want to see good football and we know that we have to improve in this aspect.

"We would all like to play better, score more goals and ensure the fans are enjoying themselves.

"The games at the Bernabeu have been complicated and this brings about nervousness and anxiety, but we are working well. At times, because of the anxiety, things do not go well," added the long-serving striker, who also backed team-mates Royston Drenthe and Marcelo who have become the victims of the Madrid boo boys.

"They are very young players with great sporting careers in front of them. The coach and the team have a lot of confidence in them. They are going to be very important for this club, I'm sure," he said.