Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has insisted his side can still reach the Champions League final, despite being routed 4-1 at Borussia Dortmund in their semi-final, first leg on Wednesday.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski netted all four of Dortmund’s goals to strengthen the possibility of an all-German final at Wembley on May 25, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s away goal gives Real a slim second-leg lifeline.
After Bayern Munich’s 4-0 hammering of Barcelona on Tuesday in the other semi-final, Borussia followed the German champions’ example and floored their Spanish opponents in Dortmund.
Mourinho’s team now face an uphill battle at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Tuesday’s return leg, but with Real chasing a 10th European title, the 50-year-old Portuguese self-styled “Special One” has promised they will put up a fight.
“I have learnt that anything can happen in football, it will be tough next week, but nothing is impossible and my footballers will try to show that next Tuesday,” Mourinho said.
“The best team by far won,” he said. “Individually and collectively Dortmund were better and deserved their victory. They were first to every ball and were far more intense than us.”
“We found it hard to hold onto possession when they pressed, but we can come back,” Mourinho said.
Real only narrowly avoided suffering their worst defeat in international competition — AC Milan beating them 5-0 in what was then the European Cup in the 1988-1989 campaign — but Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp advocated caution.
“We have to force ourselves to stay focused, we still need to go to Madrid, which will be no walk in the park,” Klopp said.
“We scored some great goals and played really well, but we have to go to Fortuna Duesseldorf, in the Bundesliga, then Madrid for the second game and there is still a lot to do,” he said.
Klopp quickly poured water on any notion his side are now favorites to win the Champions League for the second time in their history after their 1997 triumph.
“I don’t have the feeling we’re favorites, we produced an exceptional game against a fantastic team, there could have been worse results and we still have to go there, we just want to reach the final,” Klopp said.
“Nothing is decided, it’s just halftime, we don’t have much experience this far in the tournament and we will have to work unbelievably hard in Madrid,” he said. “The only thing I know, which is great, is that my team will not go there and want to defend.”
The night belonged to Lewandowski, who stole the limelight with the opening goal, then added a second-half hat-trick to become the first player to score four goals in a Champions League semi-final.
“We have taken only the first step, but of course we are happy,” Lewandowski said. “I am pleased with the four goals, but now we want to reach the final.”