Fabio Aurelio has said he expects Liverpool to finish off Real Madrid and reach the Champions League last eight for the fourth time in five years.
Ahead of the last-16 first-leg victory over Real in the Bernabeu, Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart claimed Liverpool “were a little bit scared” of their Spanish opponents. That boast came back to haunt Real, with Yossi Benayoun heading a late winner to send Liverpool into Tuesday’s second leg at Anfield confident they can reach the last eight again.
And Aurelio, who faced Real several times in La Liga in his spell with Valencia, even had a swipe at Madrid’s under-achievement in recent seasons in the competition.
“If you look at the last few Champions League campaigns, Liverpool have been in the last four consistently,” he said. “And we have reached two finals in recent seasons. Where were Madrid? “They are a great club with great history in Europe, but Liverpool are also famous in the competition.”
Aurelio was one of seven players in Liverpool’s starting line-up in the Bernabeu who have faced Real in La Liga. The confident performance, somewhat out of keeping with recent Premier League displays, produced a deserved first-leg win to stun the vast Spanish audience.
Aurelio said: “We are not frightened of anyone. Certainly, from my point of view, I am used to playing against Real every season from my time in Spain, as are many of our players. But aside from that, we are Liverpool, and we do not have to be afraid of anyone. And the draw we achieved in Madrid certainly excited all of our players.”
But even though Liverpool have a precious away goal, they are fully aware that Real will be dangerous rivals on Tuesday and are more than capable of winning the tie.
Real defender Sergio Ramos underlines the confidence from his squad, who have extended their unbeaten run in La Liga to 10 matches, to bring themselves within four points of leaders Barcelona.
He said: “Just like Liverpool, we need to find an away goal. It is almost like a final: we are playing for qualification and we all know we have to put pressure on them to try to get a goal, although we will have to be wary because they have match-winners.”