Quarter-final, first leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal and Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson could barely contain their enthusiasm when discussing Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final encounter.
Van Gaal professed himself “jealous” of United’s resources, while Ferguson was full of admiration for the club his side famously defeated in the 1999 final.
“It’s a big match, for both the players and coaches,” said Van Gaal. “We enjoyed success against Juventus and Fiorentina but Manchester United are on another level, first class. They have really good organisation – I’m a little bit jealous to be honest. But at home Milan had their chances [against United], and I think we will too.
“We are not at their level because we do not play at the top of our game week in, week out. Not yet. But over two matches we will hold our own.
Van Gaal identified Wayne Rooney, scorer of four goals in the previous round against Milan, as the biggest threat to Bayern.
“Wayne Rooney is a really great player – it will be very difficult to keep him quiet, but we are not afraid of him,” said the Dutch coach. “We have to play as a team; then we have a chance. We are not favourites but we are at home and we can play very well here. We will do everything we can to get Robben fit but he will only play if he is 100%. I won’t risk anything.”
Van Gaal will be without the suspended Bastian Schweinsteiger and there are serious doubts over the fitness of Arjen Robben, who injured a calf in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Stuttgart.
Ferguson, meanwhile, admitted that it was games like this that helped him maintain his enthusiasm for the job.
“These two teams have a great history; it’s matches like this and the chance to play against the best teams in Europe that make me happy to do this job,” he said. “My team are in good form and hopefully we can get the result we want. I have respect for Bayern, they have really good players and a great coach. We have to be aware of that. We can’t think for a second that it will be an easy match. It’s going to be very important to score.
“Wayne Rooney is one of the best players in the world and has been unbelievable this season; I hope he’ll show that again, but we have a lot of other fantastic players. Manchester United are not only Wayne Rooney.
“I do not know if Robben and Ribéry could play, but we will prepare as if they will. It’s important we do, because they’re both really special players.”