Every word from Ralf's press conference

Monday 14 March 2022 14:15

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick addressed questions from the media ahead of Tuesday night's home UEFA Champions League match against Atletico Madrid (20:00 GMT kick-off).

The second leg of this last-16 tie will be broadcast live in the UK on BT Sport, with the aggregate score currently 1-1 after a tight first leg in Madrid three weeks ago.

Anthony Elanga's 80th-minute goal, five minutes after coming off the bench as a substitute, has tilted the tie ever so slightly in United's favour due to home advantage. Atletico had taken an early lead when Joao Felix leaped to meet Renan Lodi's seventh-minute cross.

Rangnick addressed the balance of the tie, the importance of having a boisterous Old Trafford support, the role of Cristiano Ronaldo and gave a team news update.

Read every word from the German coach below...

Press conference: Rangnick x Telles Video

Press conference: Rangnick x Telles

You aren't ready for kick-off until you've seen Ralf and Alex's press conference with the global media...

Hi guys, a question for Ralf, can you let us know what the situation with Bruno is and the team news for the rest of the team?
"As it is right now, we have all the players available for the game tomorrow, there is a small question mark behind Luke Shaw, he has been training yesterday and today but we have to wait to see if he is fully fit to be available for the game, all the other players are back in training and ready for tomorrow"

With Bruno was it another case of a false positive?
"No, he was tested yesterday negative and that's the reason why he could train today."

What do you want from the crowd, how important is it and how can they affect your players for this huge game?
"Yes, I think quite like in the game against Spurs, we need both our players and our supporters to be on top form tomorrow night. Our supporters play a vital role, it's always a very special atmosphere at Old Trafford, even more so in international games and in the end they can not only be our 12th but also our 13th player on the pitch and make the difference, making it a very special experience for everybody, but, in the end, it's obviously up to us, we have to create those moments and then I think the rest will automatically be done by our fantastic supporters."

Cristiano was the star man on Saturday with the hat-trick, do you have any concerns about the quick turnaround given his age, 37? Is it unrealistic to expect the same kind of heroics?
"Well, I'm not worried that he has not been able to recover, so far he's always been a person who looks quite a lot after himself, his body, and he knows exactly what to do, so I'm not worried about that. If he can score another three goals, we will see, I mean, it's not so easy to against this team at all. I think his overall performance was just good, if not even very good, and this is obviously what we hope to get from him again tomorrow night. But it's not only about Cristiano, it's about the whole team. We saw in the first half in Madrid what we should not do, how we should not play and this was a big topic yesterday and today when we spoke pre-match about tomorrow's game. We have to know what it tactically takes and the rest I think is all about energy, we were the team against Spurs who just wanted to win that game, that became obvious and our supporters played a vital role, and they realised how much we wanted to win that game and tomorrow it will be similar."

You mentioned scoring, Atletico are difficult to score against, how important is it to get the first goal, how important is it not to concede and give them an advantage and give them something to hold on to?
"Yes, it's very important, even more so against a team like Atletico who don't mind the other team having the ball. I mean, in the last four or five games they played, including their league games, they had less than 50% possession of the ball. We are aware of that and we need to make sure that if possible we don't concede at all but, yes, it would be definitely important to score the first goal ourselves."

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Read our big match preview ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with the Spanish champions.

Hi Ralf, I just wanted to ask you about Raphael Varane. When he and Maguire have been on the pitch, the team haven't lost a game? Raphael Varane has been missing for the worst defeats. How important is his presence in that back four and how much more stable is the defence when he is there?
"Yes, it's very important, but with Victor Lindelof, we have also won quite a few games and played well and had quite a few clean sheets. Right now we have top players for central defence and it will be not so easy for me to take that decision tomorrow. Also when Victor came on in the last 10-15 minutes, he played well, but as I said, it's good to have Rapha fully fit again and it's also good that we looked after him and he looked after himself, not playing too early again. So now he seems to be fit on a regular basis and can play for us regularly."

Looking at the Champions League trophy doesn't look realistic right now but it is the only chance of a trophy this season, so how much of a blow would it be to be knocked out tomorrow for the season?
"If I were you, I would ask that question completely in a different way, I would ask how much of a boost would it be to win the game tomorrow and this is exactly how we go into the game tomorrow. We have a fantastic opportunity to be in the top eight teams in Europe if we beat them tomorrow and this is exactly what we're trying to achieve. I think the game against Tottenham on which level we can play and with another 10 or 20% on top of that, I'm sure we can also win the game tomorrow."

Hi Ralf, just on what you were saying before, making an impression in this tournament, going further into the last eight or maybe the last four, is so important to the name around Europe and re-establishing it, isn't it?
"Yes, but, for us, it's more important about our own sporting ambition, we are highly ambitious, we want to proceed, we want to show that we can compete with the best teams in Europe and therefore we will try everything to win the game tomorrow."

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The Spanish champions will be missing two players who featured in the 1-1 draw in Spain three weeks ago.

Hi Ralf, how important a role do you think the fans and Old Trafford will play in tomorrow's match, we know how crucial it can be and the age-old 'Old Trafford has seen plenty of great European nights'?
"I think we had that question earlier on and even more so in international games, they play a very important role in getting behind the team, making it a very special atmosphere and I think the supporters are the ones that we can rely on, and on what kind of level and what kind of energy that happens is up to us. I think Antonio Conte said after the game said that it was a very difficult atmosphere for them to play and I think this is probably one of the biggest compliments you can get, if the head coach of the opponents says that after the game."

Juan Mata is a Spanish player with a very good career and is much-loved, he has barely played four games this season for you, is it problems physical or just someone who doesn't fit your system?
"Well, he is also very popular in our group. I think everybody likes Juan a lot, and he can still play on this level, but it's a question of competition. We have quite a few players for those midfield places and I will also have to decide and choose between five or six players for the places for tomorrow's game."

You mentioned before about reaching the final eight and that opportunity, the way the season's going, could it get to the stage that to qualify for next season's competition, winning this season's Champions League might be easier than the top four?
"Well, it doesn't matter in which way we would qualify for the Champions League next season, the question is what is more realistic. Tomorrow, it's Champions League and we obviously will try everything we can to win the game tomorrow, and then we will be in the last eight, but even if we manage to do that, there are a few other good teams in the competition. In three weeks, we have the next Premier League game, against Leicester at home, and we will still try to push and do everything to win the next games in the Premier League, we are fully aware we should not be dropping points any more, in none of the games. Right now Arsenal is in good shape, they won again yesterday at home against Leicester, so, for us, it's clear, we have to look after ourselves, and make sure that we win all the next upcoming games in the Premier League. Tomorrow is a different competition, it's Champions League and, as I said, everybody in the squad and staff is highly motivated and we cannot wait for the kick-off tomorrow."

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The latest on Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes as United prepare for a huge night.

Ralf you said after Saturday's game that it was Cristiano's best performance since you took over, what do you think prompted that performance, for him to do so well?
"Well, it's difficult for me to answer that question. There was a lot of discussion before that game. I think he just showed what kind of professional player he is and what kind of level he can still play. For us, it's important, with performances like the one that he showed, he's still a very important player in this team, he can make a difference, and also tomorrow for us, it would be good to show a similar performance as he did against Tottenham."

Ronaldo played well on Saturday, scored a hat-trick. Will you adjust the starting line-up in this game since players like Bruno Fernandes may come back?
"Yeah, I have to make that decision by tomorrow so it's possible we have some new players in the starting XI, but there is not that much reason to change too many positions. We will see. To start with, it's good to have everybody available, that's better than missing out five or six players."