Focus on the Champions League: Ander's assessment
Ander Herrera and his Manchester United team-mates will head to Bern this week to kick off this season’s Champions League campaign, with Young Boys the first test to come in Group H.
Herrera, a connoisseur of the game and a passionate watcher of leagues across the world, sat down with us ahead of the trip and gave his assessment on the challenges that lie ahead in Europe…
TOP TEAMS BRING OUT BEST IN US
"It’s a big challenge for us but I’m happy with the group because I think we perform better against top teams and Juventus is the biggest club in Italy. They have done amazing in the last few years, it looks like they have a very strong club – the connection between the players, the manager and the fans is great. So I think it’s going to be interesting for all our fans and for Paul [Pogba] it will be special and for Cristiano Ronaldo too. It’ll be a good game to play."
"He [Cristiano] came back with Real Madrid and I think our fans still love him, what he did for the club was great. But I hope he enjoys it only before the game! [Laughs] It will be very special for Paul to go back to Italy, to Turin. He went there as a kid and he became a man there and then he came back home. I think the fans still love him as well and they will give him a very warm reception. But let’s focus on the game as it will be special."
JUVE HAVE BEEN ALMOST UNSTOPPABLE
"Nowadays [with Juve] it’s not only about the defence, I think they are very strong also in attack. They are a very balanced team, very experienced and they have great players, and they have done really well in the last few years. Milan used to be there fighting with them for the titles, Inter as well, but Juve have been almost unstoppable in the last few years so congratulations to them, but we will try to beat them and I think it’s a very good challenge for us."
VALENCIA ARE STRONG
"I think Valencia is back to the Valencia we all used to watch, getting to quarter-finals, semi-finals and some finals. I think they are a very strong side and they are building a very good team. I know the manager and the style they play, they always play with the same system and they are very strong. They also really believe in the way they play, 4-4-2 with two strikers who are both very mobile. We cannot underestimate them because they are a really, really strong side."
"It is very good [the Mestalla Stadium]. Now the connection between the fans and the team is very strong. Sometimes the fans used to be hard with the team when they saw them play not so well, but in the last few years they are doing very good and the connection is back and is very strong. When Valencia plays at home to Barcelona or Real Madrid it’s very hard for them to even get a point from the Mestalla, so it will be very tough."
YOUNG BOYS HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
"They are a team that has nothing to lose, they are playing against three big teams. They are probably a very young team like Basel last season with all the desire and expectations to do good, so that will make them difficult because they have nothing to lose. If I’m not wrong, I think their pitch is artificial so we will have to adapt in the first game which is away to them."
"It’s an interesting group and it’s going to be hard – I think it’s a proper Champions League group and it’s fantastic to play in these great Champions League matches. In Spain we are used to playing night games and I think when you play at night it’s even more special for everyone, the atmosphere is normally, if I can say, romantic [smiles] and it will be amazing to play these games, especially at home, but if we want to get to the next round the first thing is Young Boys away. We don’t think about Juventus and Valencia. If we get the three points [in the first game] we will be closer, but it’s only about being focused on the next game."