Berlin (AFP) – They may sit third in the Spanish league, but when it comes to the Champions League holders Real Madrid simply engage a special ‘chip’, says James Rodriguez.
On loan at Bayern Munich, who host his ex-club Real in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final next Wednesday, James says the Spanish giants’ strength is knowing how to conjure up their best performances in Europe.
“They use a different ‘chip’ in the Champions League than they do in the (Spanish) league and manage to get the most out of themselves,” James told Munich-based newspaper TZ.
“They know what it takes to fight for this trophy year after year, after all they have made history in the European Cup and the Champions League.”
After three mediocre years at the Bernabeu, where he failed to regularly force his way into Real’s star-studded team, James has rediscovered his best form this season amid a two-year loan deal at Bayern.
Real could win the Champions League title for the third straight season — and the 13th time in the club’s history — in the Kiev final on May 26.
Bayern have every reason to be wary of Real, who knocked them out of the Champions League last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his last three matches against the Bundesliga giants including two in each of his last two games at Munich’s Allianz Arena.
The Portuguese superstar has already scored 15 goals in the Champions League this season.
“He is a goal machine and has proven it time and time again,” said Colombia star James, the top-scorer at the 2014 World Cup.
“He is always there when needed, as proven by his numbers.
“We need to produce a top team performance so he doesn’t have his best day.
“You have to take care of him, but Real Madrid is not just Ronaldo.
“It won’t be easy, that’s for sure.”
A pair of second-half goals by Ronaldo sealed Real’s 2-1 win in the 2017 quarter-final first leg in Munich before the Germans went down 4-2 after extra-time in the Madrid return.
But James said there’s no talk of revenge: “I think we should not see the two games against Real as revenge for last year, but simply as two more games on the way to the final.
“Of course, the encounters between these teams are almost always unique, but we have to focus on standing up to a team like Real Madrid.”
James claims to have been indifferent when Bayern drew Real.
“When you go that far in a competition, it does not really matter which opponent you get,” he said.
“Real Madrid, as well as Liverpool and Roma, are tough opponents.
“With all of them, you have to go to the limit to reach one more round.
“What really matters is that we now keep calm, believe in ourselves and play two strong games.
“That’s just what I want.”