Ralf's European matchday Q&A
Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has previewed the big game against Atletico Madrid in an exclusive interview with club media.
The German is eagerly anticipating the chance to pit his wits against Diego Simeone at the Wanda Metropolitano during Wednesday's 20:00 GMT kick-off in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg.
We sought Ralf's views on Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and David De Gea returning to Madrid, the abolition of the away-goals rule, the importance of substitutes in such ties and morale on the back of the 4-2 win at Leeds United last weekend...
“Very good. Even more so, since the atmosphere at the stadium with Atletico will be similar, only probably in double figures with regards to supporters. I expect 65,000 in that stadium. It was an important win for the league but also for the team to have shown they are ready for that kind of experience in that kind of atmosphere.”
Ronaldo and Varane are returning to the city where they used to play so are they excited by the game?
“Yes but this is also true of the rest of the team. Obviously, for the two of them, it's coming back to the place they used to play, the city they played for a long time.”
De Gea is back where it all began with Atletico – all three have a wealth of experience in the Champions League so will that help the team?
“Yeah, I hope a lot but we have enough experience in our team and a good mix of experienced players and younger players. I’m not worried about the lack of experience for the game.”
“We will see. Again, he’s got enough experience. He’s used to this sort of hostile atmosphere in his career so it shouldn’t impress him a lot. Again, for us, it’s about how we perform as a team. He cannot do it on his own. We have to perform on a high level as a team, like we did against Leeds, knowing the quality of Atletico is high.”
Does the change in the away-goals rule alter your approach for the tie?
“Well, not really but I mean it’s an important change. I’m not saying it’s a good change. It’s important to know that it is not that important to score, it’s about getting a good result that leaves us all the chances for our home game against Atletico.”
Atletico v Utd: Ralf and Bruno's press conference
Ralf Rangnick was joined by Bruno Fernandes was our pre-match press conference, which you can watch in full here...
“Very important. In the Champions League, we can sub five players, which is good. I would wish also this to be the case in the Premier League. I think we’re the only league in Europe, as far as I know, with only three subs being allowed. Therefore, I’m very happy I can sub five players.”
Finally, it’s the FA Youth Cup quarter-final on Thursday so how big an opportunity is it for them to showcase their skills?
“Very much so, I think next week it’s [Borussia] Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League and, on Thursday, Leicester. Hopefully, I will be able to watch the games, both games, it’s a great experience for those boys and, as I said, it’s also the future of our club.”