AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti described quarter-final opponents Manchester United FC as "probably the best of the eight teams left" in the competition.
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AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti cursed his luck after his side were paired with Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw.
'Probably the best team left'
Having beaten French league leaders Olympique Lyonnais to reach this stage of the competition for the first time since 1984, Roma must now take on the English Premiership's top team in United. "We have not been lucky in the draws as Manchester United and Lyon are probably the most complete sides in Europe," said Spalletti. "At this stage of the competition every side is strong but United are probably the best of the eight teams left."
Roma won 2-0 at Lyon on Tuesday to secure an identical aggregate success while United booked their first quarter-final since 2003 thanks to 1-0 victories home and away against LOSC Lille Métropole. These clubs have never met before but Spalletti knows all about the strengths of Sir Alex Ferguson's outfit. "They are very good, young, they have enthusiasm, tradition and are used to playing at this level. However, we have to play our own game without thinking about the strength of our opponents, just as we did against Lyon. Probably we are a bit more technical and a bit more organised in defence, but they have great physical power and great players."
Respect for Roma
For United, meanwhile, facing Roma for the first time will be "a new and exciting experience" according to Sir Alex. "That's the great thing about Europe, you play teams you've never played before," said the Scot, who explained that Roma's defeat of Lyon meant nobody at Old Trafford would be taking the Serie A side lightly. "We respect their last result. They have some great players like [Daniele] De Rossi and Mancini."
United will travel to Rome for the first leg on 4 April with the return in Manchester six days later. The winning team will encounter either AC Milan or FC Bayern München in the last four. Of a possible semi-final against Milan, Spalletti said: "We want to go all the way and I would have preferred to face Milan in Athens." Sir Alex was rather more circumspect as he said: "Obviously it's pointless looking beyond this game. We must concentrate on this game only. We're really looking forward to it."