Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos admitted that the Champions League was special for the club and gave everyone extra motivation.
Los Blancos arrive into their Champions League Round of 16 fixture against Premier League champions Manchester City in poor domestic form, with just one victory in their last four in Spanish domestic football.
February has been a tough month for the club – crashing out of the Copa del Rey against Real Sociedad while following up a disappointing home draw against struggling Celta de Vigo with a defeat at Levante last time out.
However, Madrid have won the Champions League a record 13 times including lifting the competition in four of the last six editions.
“The truth is that for us the Champions League is always special, the anthem is already an extra motivation for everyone, for the players and for the fans,” Ramos told his pre-match press conference, as cited by Marca.
“It is no coincidence that we have that record in the competition and that there is magic. For me it is a privilege be able to play the Champions League.
“When the Champions League arrives, sometimes you arrive in bad fomr and play a great game. It will be a very hard duel against a complicated opponent, but to those of us who like these games it is a special day.”
Ramos was then quizzed about Madrid’s patchy domestic form and particularly their struggles in front of goal this season – they have scored 16 La Liga goals fewer than current league leaders Barcelona.
“In the end football is results and the team has not changed in many ways,” Ramos added.
“We have lost playing well but we were not in good form in front of goal and the goal is what penalises you.
“If you score goals it changes results and the narrative, but there is no time for us to lament this and it has been the case all season – but only now is it talked about, because we are not winning.”
Facing Pep Guardiola? “I have a lot of respect for him and he is a great Coach, his numbers speak for themselves. What motivates us is the Champions League, not a Coach or a player.
“There is plenty of motivation when that hymn sounds. You forget everything else and that is what motivates us.”