Rojo: 'Everything changed after Paris'
Marcos Rojo believes Manchester United's elimination of Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round of the Champions League will have garnered renewed respect across Europe.
Few fancied the Reds to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg, after a 2-0 defeat to the French side at home, only for a superb 3-1 victory in Paris to clinch an away-goals success.
Rojo appreciates Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men will be underdogs again going into the two-legged tie with Spanish leaders Barcelona, one of the favourites to lift the trophy on 1 June, but he has stressed that the Old Trafford crowd can help make it a famous night under the floodlights.
“Look what happened with Paris Saint-Germain,” Rojo told MUTV.
“We went over there, apparently without any chance whatsoever, people were saying it was a given that PSG were going through and then everyone saw what then happened.
”You should never write anyone off out of hand. Of course, Barcelona have huge experience of playing in lots of finals and semi-finals in the Champions League for a good few years now. But we have our own strengths too, and we have to know how to make best use of them. Of course, they will be favourites to go through but we are going to give everything we've possibly got to ensure that we go through.
“For me, after Paris, everything changed, I reckon that all the teams in Europe are now starting to look at us differently and to show us a little bit more respect because this is a great club with so much history and I reckon that in these games that counts for a lot. And I don’t think there’s any team out there who really wants to come to Old Trafford to play United. In fact I’m sure of that, so we have a lot of things in our favour, like being at home in front of our own fans to give us the chance to take a lead over there.”
Rojo believes the crowd can roar United on this Wednesday night and reacted positively when news of the last-eight draw in Nyon filtered through.
“I was very happy about it,” he added.
“I remember that we were altogether watching the draw, and so when a team like Barça comes out of the hat, it’s a great feeling to be coming up against them. Because you can always look at key moments like this, as maybe in recent Champions League campaigns, we’ve not managed to get this far. But here we are now, having got through this far once again, and facing Barcelona, I believe United are beginning to be the team they were of old.
”Now it‘s down to us to try and keep going in the tournament. It’s going to be an incredible game, I can tell you, Old Trafford is going to explode [with noise]! And I hope that things go well for us on the night.
The Argentina international is feeling fully fit again after a training stint with his former club Estudiantes and, following a first-team cameo in the home win against Watford recently, a run-out for the Under-23s in their Old Trafford clash with West Brom on Friday night.
“I’ve been back training now for three months,” he said.
“But I’ve not had the chance to play very much. I got to come on for 20 minutes against Watford so I think it was a smart decision from the manager to ask me to turn out for the Under 23s.
”I think it was a clever decision and I turned up and worked hard. I was actually picked to play at left-back so I got to run a fair bit! And so, yes, it came at the right time and was beneficial to be getting some playing time and being out there on a football pitch is key.
“Also, it was fantastic to go back to Estudiantes. I started at that club, aged 10, so just imagine what it was like for me to then go back and train with them; lots of memories of great times there.
”So it’s thanks to the boss Ole who gave me the opportunity to go to Argentina, just in the middle of the FIFA International break.
“He understood where I was coming from, and gave the go-ahead, but obviously I wanted to do everything I could to be fit and ready when I came back. So I spoke with Seba Veron who is the club president and Ole and people at the club here got in touch with him and, fortunately, I could go and train for a few days at Estudiantes’ headquarters.”
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