Will Manchester City be the big [Champions League] team to beat?
Well I’m not so sure. Dortmund are double winners in Germany, they’re a finely-tuned team and they’re full of internationals, many from Germany and the two best Polish players. They’ve already built up a lot of experience in the Champions League, they have an impressive stadium and fans that will support them to the last. And with Ajax you never know, but they can cause you an upset. And as there’s no margin for error… But yes, Manchester City are really powerful because of money, and world-class football players. City are a team made to win the Champions League, put together with this intention. The investment that goes in year after year has the goal of winning the European Cup. And it’s going to be hard. Hard for Real Madrid, and hard for them because Madrid is Madrid.
Madrid have managed to sink Barça twice in the last six months. Is this the start of a new chapter?
It’s not me who should say that. What’s evident is that we’ve broken Barça’s winning streak, that brought them one title after the next. Now the alternation has come back, and we’ll see who wins this battle. Anyway, we have to be honest: we’re speaking about Real Madrid and Barcelona, two very good teams, excellent teams. Any other team you could pick in the world, if they had to play in the Liga, wouldn’t finish first or second. And I chose Real Madrid precisely because of that. Because it’s more difficult to be here. If you go to another league it’s easier to win. With any other direct rival that’s not Barça, and in terms of the whole league, everything would be easier.
I’ll also say that Barça are part of the reason why Madrid got to where they got last season; they set the bar really, really high. To be champions we had to go to a different dimension, and that’s why the last Liga is such an honour. But the battle isn’t over. The cycle of constant wins for Barcelona may have finished. But the cycle of high quality from both these teams hasn’t. The struggle will go on. And football fans, not only in Spain but around the world, are going to enjoy the Madrid-Barça matches to come. Madrid-Barça is a blessing for football, for football fans. I don’t have the numbers, but I’m sure that the recent Supercopa had a bigger global audience than many matches in the last Champions League.
He was also asked to give his thoughts on the Cristiano situation; he declined.