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Real Madrid's Karanka Speaks Of Champions League And Athletic Bilbao

posted 13 Apr 2013, 07:03 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 13 Apr 2013, 07:04 ]

Real Madrid won't take Borussia Dortmund lightly in their Champions League semi-final, says assistant coach Aitor Karanka, but right now they are focussing on their league match against Athletic Bilbao.

 MADRIDSPAIN (APRIL 13, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka said on Saturday (April 13) that no-one should take their difficult Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund for granted.

Dortmund had the upper hand in their group stage meetings with Real Madrid, drawing 2-2 at the Bernabeu and winning 2-1 at home. The two meet in the semi's first leg on April 24 in Germany.

"The four teams have great prestige. We couldn't defeat Dortmund this year and I repeat the same again: if we think or somebody thinks that it is going to be easy or that we are already qualified for the final, he is completely wrong," Karanka said at a news conference in Madrid on Saturday.

In La Liga, Real are away at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday (April 14), playing for the last time in the iconic San Mames stadium, which is soon to be replaced.

The Basque side is erecting a new stadium next to the old San Mames, which will probably be torn down by June. The new stadium is due to be unveiled in September and will initially have 36,000 seats, but should eventually hold around 53,000 fans.

Nicknamed 'Los Leones' or 'The Lions' after their competitive spirit, Athletic have always been difficult opponents for Real Madrid.

"San Mames is always a difficult ground, but at the same time it is beautiful to play and even more so this time as it the last one. Athletic have some players sidelined, but the players they might bring in are not average. Fernando Llorentefor example; if he plays we already know his quality as a player and a world champion. Games there against Madrid are always specials," Karanka said.

Real's league match will be even more special for goalkeeper Iker Casillas, if he plays. After recovering from a fracture in his left hand that kept him sidelined for more than two months, the 31-year old might return to competition at the same ground that saw him make his first official appearance for 'Los Blancos' in 1999.

"San Mames is special for every player, for sure it is even more special for Iker because he made his first appearance there. But for me; for Xabi Alonso because he was a Real (Sociedad) player; for Sergio Ramos who has played a thousand times there -- I think San Mames is a special stadium for everyone. But I can't tell you if he (Casillas) is going to play because players don't even know and they should know it first," said Real's asisstant coach.

Real are second in La Liga with 65 points, to Barcelona's 78, while Athletic Bilbaoare 13th with 35.

Real have given up on the domestic league title, but still have a chance of winning two trophies as they are through to the King's Cup final to face Atletico, as well as the Champions League semi's.