Sergio Ramos has made clear that Real Madrid respect Manchester United more than just for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Ramos is set to line up in the centre of Madrid’s defence on Wednesday night in direct competition with the Dutch and English forwards, who are both on form this term.
“Van Persie is on very, very good form. We hadn't seen him this good for years. He's quick, strikes the ball well, he's a constant nuisance,” reflected Ramos in an interview with The Guardian this week.
“Rooney's different. He's hard-work, heavy going. He enjoys the physical challenge. I prefer that, to be honest. I like that defender versus striker battle, that challenge.
“But Rooney's mobility is difficult: you don't always know how far to step out to pressure him. He drops deeper, or pulls wide and you wonder whether to follow.
“The communication with the midfield is vital. If he drops, there's a point at which the centre-back can't follow him and the responsibility passes to the midfielders. Go too far and you leave space behind.
“But it's not just them, it's the whole team. You've got Chicharito [Javier Hernandez] who comes on for half an hour and scores two or three every time. And it's no coincidence.”
Even so, the Spain international is relishing the challenge of facing the English League leaders.
“I was pleased to get United. They are in the Premier League what Madrid are in Spain perhaps: the values, the history.
“What they have always represented, the philosophy they transmit, the ideals they inculcated their players with, are similar.
“Few games have the repercussion of this match. And I'd rather play them than a team that's not as big but comes along and surprises you. Besides, I like English football.”
Ramos was asked if he would ever consider a move to England.
“When you go through a bad spell all sorts of things go through your mind and there have been times when I've had offers from England and Italy but my Dad told me once: 'If you are ever going to leave anywhere, do it through the front door and with your head held high, not when things are going badly.'
“My dream is to keep playing here but it's true that England's attractive. Friends playing there always talk highly [about it] and it would be a new experience.
“My Dad used to watch a lot and he would say to me when I was a kid: 'Come and watch this. Look at this guy …' I wouldn't say he obliged me to watch it but pretty much.
“He'd say: 'Today so-and-so is playing; watch him.'
“Who did he support? Manchester United. Divided loyalty? Haha, no! My dad always had a soft spot for Manchester but my family are Sevilla fans – and now Real Madrid.”
This season has been difficult for Madrid and it is anticipated that Jose Mourinho will depart in the summer.
“Let's hope he stays but that's his decision. He's a great Coach and we've been lucky to have had him. The decision is in his hands, it's up to him to decide.
“This season it's more a case of things people said than a reality of [dressing room] conflicts. You can't let it get to you because if you do, you can't live. I don't watch football debate shows on TV, hardly listen to the radio, or read the papers.
“Winning the European Cup? I wouldn't call it an obsession. It's been a long time now and everyone says: 'This year la decima, la decima, la decima…'
“Of course we feel that too but we're conscious of how difficult it is, one mistake and you're out. That said, the desire is intense and a final at Wembley would be the maximum.”
Think you know your Spanish football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!