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'Real Closer To Barca Than 15 Points'

Real Madrid’s assistant manager, Aitor Karanka, says his team are much closer to Barcelona than the 15 point La Liga gap between them suggests.

The two Spanish giants played to an enthralling 1-1 goal in the first-leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the Bernabeu last night.

While Barca regretted missed chances to bury the tie with a flurry of away goals, the match was generally evenly matched.

And Real felt they were entitled to a share of the spoils when man-of-the-match, Rafa Varane, scored their late equaliser.

Karanka believes that the way Real kept pace with Barca, in a game in which neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo troubled the scoresheet for a change, proves they are closer to the Blaugrana than La Liga standings indicate.

"The real difference between the teams you see when we play. It is quite competitive," Karanka said.

"It was a great effort from all of the team because there were a number of players out of position.

“There will be time to prepare for the second leg, but the team are more than good enough.

Varane meanwhile, continued to glow in the praise that followed his display, which contained an expertly timed goal-line clearance, as well as his thumping headed goal.

"It is a match I will always remember," Varane told AS.

"It is a dream at 19 years of age. I am happy with my performance and that of the team. Now we need to continue like this.

“Mourinho told me to give everything that I had and at the end my team-mates congratulated me. It is not the best result, but it leaves the tie open."           

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