Real Madrid are looking to the history books for
inspiration as they seek to overturn a humiliating 6-1 defeat by Real Zaragoza
and book a place in the final of the King's Cup.
Epic fightbacks have played an important part in the club's glorious past and
fans are hoping for another when they host Victor Munoz's side in the second leg
of their semi-final at the Bernabeu on Tuesday (kickoff 2000 GMT).
"For the cowards the tie is over but in my view we have a team with enough pride,
guts and talent to believe that we can turn it around," Real coach Juan Ramon
Lopez Caro said after last Wednesday's crushing defeat.
"Just as Zaragoza had a wonderful night, I believe we can have one too."
Real were torn to shreds by Zaragoza's high-speed attacking play, Argentine
striker Diego Milito joining the select band of players to score four goals
against Real and Brazilian international Ewerthon weighing in with two.
But even though they look to have waved goodbye to their most realistic chance
of a trophy this season, Real's past is littered with near miraculous comebacks.
In 1975 they lost 4-0 to Las Palmas in the first leg of a Cup semi-final, but
won through to the final with a 5-0 victory in the return and then went on to
win the competition.
In 1960 they staged an unlikely comeback when they beat Athletic Bilbao 8-0
after losing the first leg of their semi-final 3-0, while most famously of all
they steamrollered arch-rivals Barcelona 11-1 in 1943 in the last 16 after
losing 3-0 at Les Corts.
"We would be unworthy of the shirt if we did not believe we could turn this game
around," says midfielder Guti.
"We have to give absolutely everything and believe that we can do it. I think
the first 20 minutes will be the key and if we can score a couple of goals early
on then they might start getting nervous."
Real restored some pride after their defeat when they notched up their fifth
league win in a row with a 2-0 victory at struggling Bilbao on Saturday.
Despite the size of their first-leg victory, Zaragoza are determined to take
nothing for granted when they visit the Bernabeu.
"I honestly don't believe the tie is over yet," said coach Munoz.
"Madrid are a great team and deserve all the respect in the world. We are
optimistic, of course, but we've still got to complete the job."
Espanyol have a narrow 2-1 advantage over Deportivo Coruna in the other
semi-final, but the date for the return in Galicia has not yet been set because
of problems finding a vacant slot on the calendar.