Champions League news

Pique wants United to knock out Real

February 11, 2013
By Demor Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Barcelona's Gerard Pique has said he hopes his old club Manchester United overcome Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side visit the Bernabeu for the first leg on Wednesday and Pique, 25, who left Barcelona's youth set-up for Old Trafford in 2004 but returned to the Camp Nou four seasons later, said both teams were playing well.

After scoring Barca's final goal in the 6-1 Primera Division victory over Getafe at the Camp Nou on Sunday, the Spain international told reporters he knew from having spoken to Rio Ferdinand that the mood at United was positive.

"Because of my own past, I would like United to go through," he said. "I have spoken with Ferdinand, and things are very good in their dressing-room - although Madrid are also in great form."

Assistant Barca coach Jordi Roura rested regulars including Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez for Getafe's visit, giving run-outs to squad players including Alex Song, Thiago and Cristiano Tello.

Barca cruised to a victory that stretched their lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid to 12 points, and Pique said: "We have a very complete team.

"A few players who do not usually enjoy a lot of minutes [on the pitch] got to play, and they proved that they are at a good level. This helps us be relaxed."

Lionel Messi scored for a 13th consecutive La Liga game, while Alexis Sanchez, David Villa and Tello were also on target.

Andres Iniesta, with a goal and assist in a superb all-round performance, was especially impressive, Pique said. "We are lucky that we get to enjoy Andres. We have to take advantage of the fact that he plays for Barca," he told reporters.

The game kicked off at noon and was screened live on Chinese television to mark the occasion of the Lunar New Year, and Pique said the crowd of 85,610 at the ground had been exceptional despite the unusually early time.

"We felt great on the pitch," he added. "A lot of people were able to make it to the stadium and the atmosphere was fantastic. It would not be an inconvenience if we had to play at the same time in the future."