Real Madrid prepared for Borussia Dortmund in Champions League semi
Spaniards have learned from poor performances against Germans in group stage, forward insists
Agence France-Presse in Dortmund
Argentina forward Angel Di Maria insists Real Madrid have learned from their group stage defeat at Borussia Dortmund and will not make the same mistake twice in tonight's Champions League semi-final, first-leg.
Real will have to cope with what promises to be a passionate atmosphere in the near 66,000-capacity stadium during the match, for which the German club received 500,000 requests for tickets.
Di Maria said Real have progressed as a side since the defeat in the group stage.
"We weren't at our best in the two group matches, but that's changed now. Our defence is more compact and we've got more confidence," said the 25-year-old. "Dortmund are very similar to us, they're very good on the counter-attack.
"We've experienced that already. Dortmund are in good form and we need to be at 100 per cent," he added.
Jürgen Klopp's side took four points off Real in the group stages - beating Jose Mourinho's men 2-1 at home in October, before drawing 2-2 in Madrid the following month - as the German outfit finished top of group D.
Borussia are looking for a hat-trick of home victories against Spanish league sides after their dramatic 3-2 quarter-final, second-leg win over Malaga.
"Realistically, you have to make Real slight favourites when you look at it from a neutral's point of view," said Dortmund defender Mats Hummels.
While Dortmund are eyeing a second European Cup final, 16 years after beating Juventus to win the 1997 trophy, Madrid are aiming for their 13th appearance in the final.
The quest for Real's 10th European Cup triumph, known as the Decima in Spain, is something of an obsession for the Madrid club, with Mourinho bidding to win it with his third different team after Porto and Inter Milan.
"When I came to Madrid, everyone was talking about Decima. Since I didn't speak Spanish, I didn't know what they were talking about," said Germany midfielder Sami Khedira, in his third season at Real. "It took me a while to understand, but at Madrid, the Decima is everything."
Real defender Raphael Varane has said his team will need to contain Dortmund's counter-attacking instincts, as well as the German side's counter-pressing game, if they are to come away with anything from the first leg.
"We have seen that they are a very good team," said the Frenchman. "They have not reached the semi-finals by chance. We saw in the group phase that they have a quality squad. We will need to be strong and play very well."