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Karanka's Real happy

REAL MADRID assistant coach Aitor Karanka believes his side's 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final shows there remains little to choose between the sides despite their current Primera Division positions.

Barca hold a 15-point advantage over the champions in La Liga, but Karanka was delighted with how his side competed last night - even without the likes of Iker Casillas, Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Angel Di Maria.

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

"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."

Raphael Varane was Madrid's hero, heading home Mesut Ozil's cross nine minutes from time to cancel out Cesc Fabregas' 50th-minute opener.

Karanka was full of praise for the young Frenchman.

"It is not possible to have done better than Rafa did," Karanka said. "He cleared one off the line and scored the equaliser."

Varane himself described the experience as a "dream" and claimed all was to play for in the return leg on February 27.

Barcelona stand-in manager Jordi Roura, meanwhile, was also content with the result, although he did not believe it gave his team a big advantage for the second leg.