Borussia Dortmund midfielder IIkay Gundogan has hailed semi-final opponents Real Madrid as the best team left in the Champions League.
The Germany international ranked the Madrid giants over four-time winners and this season’s favourites Bayern Munich and Catalan giants Barcelona, who are in their sixth consecutive Champions League semi-finals.
Gundogan will be hoping to prove his worth against Real Madrid after being tipped as possible replacement for Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso. He went on to add that although his team are underdogs for the tie, they could repeat their group stage heroics against Los Blancos.
"Madrid is one of the best clubs in the world. I think they're the best team in the Champions League, but we have beaten them in the group before," the midfielder told Spanish newspaper AS. "Undoubtedly Madrid are now better than they were in the group, but as we showed we could beat anyone and that leaves us with a positive feeling.
"Reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League is very important for Dortmund. In fact, nobody had marked us as favourites to reach the second round because of the group we had with Real Madrid and Manchester City. The work we have done has been perfect.
Having experienced a disappointing domestic campaign this season, Gundogan emphasised Dortmund’s aim to make the Champions League final despite facing Real Madrid.
"We are not worried about playing against Real Madrid. Whatever happens we will try with all our might to reach the Champions League final on May 25."
Gundogan also showed his admiration for Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, and could not hide his excitement at the prospect of playing against two of best players in the world: Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"There is no question that Madrid has a lot of quality in midfield. But most important for me is that it has the best coach in the world," he added.
"I feel happiness. Those two are the best in the world. Three years ago I saw them both on television and now I have the opportunity to play and share the same field against them. It's a unique feeling."
Dortmund qualified for the semi-finals after a dramatic victory over Malaga in added time. The German side will be quietly confident especially with star defender Mats Hummels fully fit and ready to go.
Dortmund will play Madrid in the hope of reaching their first final since 1997, with the first leg scheduled for Wednesday in Germany.
The German club are the dark horses for the competition so will hope to upset the Spanish giants, who are on a quest for their historic 10th Champions League trophy - but they will have to stop Ronaldo first.
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