Former Barcelona and Liverpool legend Luis Garcia says it will be a mistake to underestimate Manchester United when the Champions League quarterfinals kickoff next month.
Barcelona is the raging favourite to defeat its English opponent but Garcia warned there are no easy games in the quarterfinals.
To enhance his point, he pointed to bitter rival Real Madrid’s shock elimination by Ajax in the round of 16 earlier this month.
Real won the away leg 2-1 but was thrashed 4-1 by the Dutch giant in the return leg.
Similarly, Manchester United overcame a 2-0 first leg home defeat to beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 in Paris to advance on the away goals rule.
“I don’t know why some think it will be easy for Barcelona. We may be the favourites but there are no easy games in the knockout stages of the European Cup,” said the 40-year-old forward, who is now involved with Barcelona’s youth teams.
“Some Real Madrid fans thought they had an easy draw against Ajax but look what happened.”
“These are the best eight teams in Europe. You are facing 11 hungry players who want to beat you so Barcelona cannot take it easy.”
Garcia, however, is secretly hoping Barcelona gets past United as there is a possibility of meeting Liverpool in the semifinals if the English club can beat Porto in its quarterfinal tie.
Asked about his thoughts on the English title race which sees Liverpool leading Manchester City by a point, albeit having played a game more, Garcia said he expected the race to be decided on the last day of the season.
“Both teams are fantastic. They are focused on the league and Champions League. City is under a little pressure now as Liverpool won its last game,” said Garcia, who scored the goal which helped Liverpool reach the 2005 Champions League final.
“We probably have to wait until the last minute to see who can win the league title as I don’t see either of them dropping many points.
“City having extra games (it is also in the FA Cup semifinals) might affect them a little but it will be an exciting finish.”
Old rivals match up in Malaysia ⚽
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Garcia’s warning not to take Manchester United lightly was echoed by Nemanja Vidic, who like the former Spanish international, is in Malaysia for the Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Vidic, who is a big golf fan, said: “First of all, it’s great that we (United) actually managed to be in the quarterfinals considering what happened in the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
“We are a little unlucky to get Barcelona but they are not as good or as strong as they were three or four years ago.”
“They still have (Lionel) Messi and (Luis) Suarez who are dangerous but I think the way we fought back against PSG shows we should be positive.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s Marcus Fraser and Spain’s Nacho Elvira took a share of the first round lead by returning with matching seven-under 65s.
Nicholas Fung is the top Malaysian after the first day, three strokes off the pace.
Gavin Green, the highest ranked Malaysia, had a poor start with a two-over 74.