Galacticos' former defender tells mid-day that the recent Copa del Rey title will inspire Madrid to not just beat Bayern Munich in semis tonight, but also go on and rule Europe
Real Madrid will need to come up with a supreme performance to get past a star-studded Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the prestigious Champions League, the first leg of which is tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu. And one player, who knows a thing or two about supremacy at Real Madrid, is Michel Salgado.
The 'perfect right back' as his former club describes him on their website, has won numerous accolades including four Spanish league titles, three Spanish Super Cups, two Champions League titles, one Inter-continental Cup and one European Super Cup during his decade-long stint with the Spanish giants.
It was titles that inspired Salgado to keep going for 10 seasons at Madrid, and that's exactly what will motivate the current Iker Casillas-led side against Philip Lahm's Bayern, felt the 38-year-old, who is now director of football at the Spanish Soccer Schools in the United Arab Emirates.
"Real have been a bit low in the recent past (having lost their previous El Clasico 3-4 to Barcelona in March) and with the La Liga (Spanish League) almost out of their reach now. But their recent Copa Del Rey title (beating Barcelona 2-1) will have given them a lot of confidence.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo (right) train yesterday. Pic/AFP
They will be bolstered by a renewed vigor as they go into the Champions League semi-finals now thanks to that emphatic win," Salgado (38) told mid-day over the phone from UAE after the 4th Hamdan Bin Mohammad U-17 International Football Championship final where Valencia beat Al Nasr 2-0 on Sunday. Salgado was one of the chief guests at the event along with legendary Argentine Diego Maradona.
Real were without star player Cristiano Ronaldo for the Copa Del Rey final recently, and Salgado said his absence could have been a blessing in disguise. "The team played very well even without Cristiano. That's because we have a lot of good players in this team besides Cristiano.
Real Madrid has always comprised a team of good players — it's not just about one or two players — the entire team is good. And now Cristiano returning for the Champions League will only enhance our chances of winning tonight," added Salgado, who was part of a Real team that boasted of absolute legends of the game — the Galacticos — Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos, etc.
Speaking of tonight's opponents, Salgado had a word of praise for the Germans, but not without a warning thrown in.
"Bayern are a very good team and this match is as good as a final. Without a doubt Bayern are the strongest team in this Champions League. But I still believe Real can beat them. In fact, I believe Real can go on and win the Champions League title too.
This tournament is very crucial to everyone at Real and every player will give it his all to win it," emphasised Salgado, who has 53 caps for Spain. With the FIFA World Cup round the corner, a question on the title favourites simply could not be missed.
Asked to pick his top three teams for next month's Brazil showdown, Salgado is quick to respond: "Not three, I'll pick four. Two teams from South America — Brazil and Argentina, and two teams from Europe — Germany and Spain. I believe any one of these four teams can go on and become the 2014 world champions."