Ferguson: “Real is one of the best squads in counterattacks and they set a superb example in the Camp Nou”
“The key is to score early; I’d like to thank the fans at the Bernabeu for the ovation they gave me because it’s positive when the rival’s fans appreciate you so much”, said Giggs, who could make his 1,000 official appearance
Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs spoke to the media in the press room at Old Trafford. The Manchester United manager analyzed the second leg of the Champions League round of 16: "Both teams are in great form. I was there at the second leg of the Copa semifinals at Camp Nou and Real Madrid played very well. We’ve been more consistent for a while now, but it's a matchup between two of Europe’s biggest sides. The key is in how to defend. Real is one of the best squads in counterattacks and they set a superb example in the Camp Nou. Our job is to fight against this. Both teams are going to score”. Giggs, meanwhile, thanked the ovation he received in the Bernabeu in the first leg and spoke about the circumstances that can tip the match: "The key is to score early; I’d like to thank the fans at the Bernabeu for the ovation they gave me because it’s positive when the rival’s fans appreciate you so much”.
When asked about the importance of the match and the way to motivate his payers, the Manchester United boss said: “You can tell by the amount of photographers who were at the training session. It’s an important event and a night like we always want. The Champions League gives us the chance to play against some of Europe’s biggest sides. If you're preparing for a game of football against any rival you have to pay respect to the strengths of the other team. I always tell my players that I trust my group and know that they trust in each other. The coaching staff has experience and we’re going to be very prepared. The most important thing is trust”. Regarding the state of the pitch, Ferguson said: “It’s better than it was three weeks ago. It was good last Saturday and I’m sure that it’s helped that Real Madrid trains at Manchester City’s pitch. It won’t be a problem and it can’t be an excuse”.
Ferguson also had words of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo: “When we face a team that has Cristiano Ronaldo you expect problems, but we’re going to try to limit the effect he has on the match. It’s not a coincidence that he’s a great player. We don’t have to fear him because then we’d forget about our strengths”. Regarding the comparison with the Brazilian Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick and received an ovation in Old Trafford, Ferguson said: “They’re different. Cristiano is a complete athlete, he plays in every match, he’s fast and shoots with both legs. He’s a much more complete player than Ronaldo”.
The Scottish coach, who admitted that Jones “isn’t in condition to play”, spoke about three key players on his squad: “Giggs’ experience is important. He didn’t play on Saturday because he wanted to rest. He’ll play today, whether starting or on the bench I am not sure yet. We already knew about Kagawa’s quality, but he was weighed down by the three injured months he had. He’s getting back into form and he’ll be much better next year. Van Persie has performed well and I’m sure he’s brought the group up”.
One of those three players, Ryan Giggs, joined Ferguson at the press conference. When asked about possibly playing his 1,000th official game, the striker replied: “I’m proud to have played so many matches. I’ve played with really good teammates and you appreciate more what you’ve done as the years pass. I remember the second Champions League I won more fondly than the first because of the experience”.
He also remembered the last game he played against Real Madrid at Old Trafford: "You learn something from every opponent and every game. They got ahead early on with goals from Ronaldo and I think the important thing is lead the score early. The fans will support and help us, and the key is to score early”.
Mourinho: “The world will stop for 90 minutes to watch this match”
“It’s a positive thing when you come to a match with confident players” added the Real Madrid coach
José Mourinho appeared before the media in the Old Trafford press room and the coach analyzed the match of the white team against Manchester United: “It will be complicated because we are both having a good streak. Manchester United has practically won the Premier League in March and is in the English Cup quarterfinals. They have not lost any games in a while, and we have lost only one of the past 12. The world will stop tomorrow for 90 minutes to watch this game. More than a playoff, it feels like a final. It’s a positive thing when you come to a match with confident players.”
The Portuguese coach also spoke about the opponent he expects to face: “I think they are going to be very defensive when Real Madrid has the ball and pretty offensive when they have the ball. For us it’s the same, even though we are behind in the playoffs. We have to defend a lot and well when Manchester United has the ball because they are strong on offensive plays. When we have the ball we will try to make dangerous attacks.”
Regarding whether the two consecutive Clásicos won by his team give Real Madrid extra motivation for the second leg of the Champions League round of 16, Mourinho was clear: “We beat an important rival twice, but if it had been two losses the team’s mindset would be the same. They are three different competitions. This is the Champions League, we are in the final of the Copa, and in the championship, which is already lost, we won a positive victory. We are sorry that we traveled a day early because we would have liked to continue to prepare for the game in Madrid.”
Asked about Ferguson’s constant flattery of Cristiano Ronaldo, he said: “It is fine. He knows him well and he is honest in how he talks about him. He’s going to get a fantastic reception, more than deserved, and any accolades that he gets are more than deserved.” Regarding Ramos and Alonso, who are both on yellow cards, and whether Pepe can give his all, Mourinho asserted: “If we get through and they don’t play in the quarterfinals because they are sanctioned, perfect. Better to get through and have them be unable to play than for them not to be sanctioned and for us to be eliminated. Pepe played a great game against Barcelona and showed me that he is physically and tactically fit. Everyone is fit and ready to play except for Casillas.”
Of his particular duel with Ferguson and the possibility that he will be coaching as long as the Scotsman, Mourinho noted: “I have played against him many times. I have won, I have tied, and I have lost. The statistics do not matter to me all that much. Anything can happen. Someone has to win or lose the playoff. There is no one like Ferguson. His maturity and experience can only help him. As you get older you improve in this job.”
Regarding whether the match could impact certain players, he was categorical: “Everyone is prepared. They are mature. The boys have grown a lot, as we could see with Morata in the last Clásico. On Manchester, in the Bernabéu, people without a lot of international experience, like De Gea or Jones, played great games. What people want is to play games like this one.”
Asked about the first time he played in Old Trafford and how he feels now in comparison to how he felt that day, the Portuguese coach explained: “It means the same, but I live it differently. The emotions are different, even though after winning or losing you always feel the same emotions. I have played more than 100 games in the Champions League and I control my emotions in a different way. If we lose I won’t cry and if we win I won’t run 100 meters along the sideline out of happiness. If we lose we will try to sleep in the plane and if we win we will try to laugh.”
Lastly, when asked about the differences between English and Spanish football, he answered: “English football is how it is. If we talk about Spanish football, at the club and national level it has dominated but now it is struggling after the first leg of the Champions League. If the four Spanish teams are eliminated, it does not mean that Spanish football is ruined. City and Chelsea were left back in the Group Stage because they had to play very difficult teams. Spanish football is Spanish football and English football is English.”
What is your opinion? Who is going to win tonight?