Romero: 'Vida o muerte' in Germany
Sergio Romero says they have a phrase in South America for games like the Europa League one-leg knock-out ties in Germany.
The keeper is well versed in tournament football after appearing for Argentina at the World Cup and Copa America, and knows there will be no margin for error in Germany, starting with Monday's quarter-final against FC Copenhagen in Cologne.
“In Argentina, we say these are 'vida o muerte', life-and-death games because, if you win, you progress,” he told us.
“But, if you lose, you're going home.”
Romero, who performed well in the 2-1 victory over LASK, does not think fatigue will play a part in a tournament bolted on at the end of a taxing campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic. If United progress, we will play on the following Sunday in the semi-finals, with the final scheduled for Friday 21 August in Cologne.
“The fact is it will be decided by one-off games that you have to win,” he continued.
“Anything can always happen in a game, your focus and mindset always need to be spot on, and your legs have to always respond.
“As a group of players, if we have a team-mate who is struggling a bit on the day, all the lads have to give him a lift, so he can compete in the game in the best possible way. For sure, every bit of work and effort every day in training, as well as all our dreams are focused on getting United back to another Europa League final. So, we’re going to work hard for that to happen.”
There is no question that, even with the incentive of gaining qualification for the Champions League nullified due to our third-placed finish in the Premier League, everybody is intent on winning the competition for the second time in three years.
Sergio kept goal in the final against Ajax, keeping a clean sheet in the 2-0 triumph in Stockholm.
“I believe that, when you are at a club like United, every trophy is important,” he said.
“And when we won it in 2017, we picked up a trophy that hadn’t ever been in United’s cabinet. They hadn’t played in it too often but still hadn’t ever been able to win it. So, we were able to bring home a big trophy.
“We are aware that United’s trophy cabinet features the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup and the Premier League, every trophy on offer for this club is in there! So, once again, we will try to enjoy the moment and do our work away from home in the best way possible, just like always.”
90 in 20: United 2 LASK 1Video
The South American stopper believes everybody has adapted to the unusual circumstances this season and will be focused on a tournament that promises much excitement, possibly even penalty shoot-outs.
“We've really had to try to grow accustomed to the situation,” he admitted.
“We’ve had a really long break in the middle of the season, we’ve come back and worked really hard in training in separate groups, until we could start training together as a group.
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“We’ve adapted to the situation; we’ve got used to travelling to games in three separate coaches when, in the past, the team would be all nicely packed together on just the one coach. But we’ve managed to find a way to be mentally stronger than this situation that we are all experiencing right now. We are trying to play our football in every game. These are all very big games for us and for our supporters too, and we want our fans to be feeling happy while they are at home.