Wednesday 13 February 2013

United's Ferguson predicts goals to rain in Spain

United manager expects Champions League tie with Real Madrid to live up to top billing

  • Manchester United train ahead of their UEFA Champions League trip to Madrid

  • Madrid coach Jose Mourinho expressed his affection for the Barclays Premier League

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has predicted that there will be goals aplenty in his side’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg with Real Madrid this evening, while his opposite number Jose Mourinho has billed the occasion as the “match the world wants to see”.

"It will be a great encounter between two teams and two clubs who embrace the best parts of football"
Sir Alex Ferguson

The encounter between two of Europe’s most decorated sides is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the round, and Ferguson insisted on Monday that the clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will not disappoint.

“It won't be 0-0,” said Ferguson. “There will be goals and the game can of course live up to expectation. It's unfortunate we are meeting as early as this – we would have preferred it to have been in the final at Wembley.

“Jose summed it up perfectly when he said it's a game everyone has been waiting for. It's a fantastic challenge for us. It will be a great encounter between two teams and two clubs who embrace the best parts of football.”

Three-time winners United will be looking to improve on their record against Madrid in the competition, where they have got past them only once on four previous occasions, in the 1967/68 season. Madrid are bidding to be crowned European club champions for a record 10th time.

“Right now we have everyone fit and are looking forward to the challenge," Ferguson said. "It is a good time to play Madrid, because we have a fantastic [12-point] lead in the Premier League and we have everyone fit.”

The appeal of the match is also heightened by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to his former club and the renewal of the respectful rivalry between Ferguson and Mourinho, who is striving to become the first manager to win the competition for the third time with three different clubs.

“That the press room is full is indicative of what this match represents in the world of football," said Mourinho, whose side win the Spanish league title last season but are 16 points adrift of leaders Barcelona. "We are waiting for a great match – it's what we all want.

“I love everything [about the Premier League]. Normally, England will be my next step"
Jose Mourinho

"Knowing English football culture and Sir Alex Ferguson, I can say they are also thinking about playing well. Tactically, we have worked very hard and know how we want to play."

The Portuguese tactician also told Monday night’s press conference that he intends to return to the Barclays Premier League once his spell in La Liga has concluded. Asked whether he planned to come back to the English top flight the former Chelsea manager said: “I love everything [about the Premier League]. After Real Madrid we will see. Normally, England will be my next step."

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Key Points

  • Manchester United take on Real Madrid in Champions League Round of 16 tie
  • Sir Alex Ferguson expects match to live up to expectations
  • Madrid manager Jose Mourinho hints at possible return to Premier League