We must be as good as Madrid and Barca to win the Champions League, says Fergie
23:00 GMT, 6 November 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged his players to match Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid – and Champions League dark horses Borussia Dortmund – if they want to win a third Champions League crown.
The Manchester United manager arrived in northwest Portugal on the 26th anniversary of his appointment at Old Trafford knowing that victory over SC Braga on Wednesday night will ensure his side qualify for the knockout stages with two games to spare.
You know what you have to do: Sir Alex Ferguson told players they must match Madrid and Barca
But Ferguson is already looking ahead to his main rivals in this season’s competition – and he has narrowed it down to three.
‘We’ll need to perform at a really high level to win it,’ he said on Tuesday night. ‘You can’t look past Real Madrid and Barcelona, that’s fair to say, and I do think Dortmund will be about the Champions League this year.
‘If you look at their league form, 11 points behind Bayern Munich, you can tell they’re preparing themselves to do well in the Champions League.
‘Those three teams have outstanding chances and I hope we can join them because we have a good squad of players.’
Braga will be no pushovers on their own patch, however.
They provided enough evidence to support that theory when United were forced to come from behind to win 3-2 at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, and their recent record against English teams at the Estadio Municipal de Braga deserves respect.
In beating Birmingham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Portsmouth within the past five years, the Portuguese have not conceded a single goal at one of the more unique venues in European football.
Carved out a quarry, the backdrop to one of the goals at the 32,000-seater arena is a rock face. United’s dressing-room is underground and their players will have to climb four flights of stairs just to reach the pitch.
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‘Braga’s record in Europe is good, and particularly at home they carry a threat,’ added Ferguson.
an important game in terms of if we win we’re through to the next
stage. That’s the important part of tomorrow. Hopefully we can manage
‘I’m hoping we can get to the next stage because it you look at the squad it’s very strong.’