Pressure on both Real Madrid and Manchester United says Jonny Evans
The two sides meet at the Bernabeu on Wednesday
Monday 11 February 2013
Jonny Evans knows the pressure will be on for both sides when Manchester United tackle Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Real coach Jose Mourinho underlined the importance of this week's Champions League showdown at the Bernabeu yesterday when he said it is a match "the whole world wants to see".
Tickets have certainly been pretty hard to come by, with many United fans booking trips to Madrid without a clue as to how they will actually get to see the game.
Mourinho is under the microscope, with his side trailing badly in La Liga, in stark contrast to United, whose victory over Everton at Old Trafford took them 12 points clear of Manchester City with only 12 games remaining.
But that does not mean Sir Alex Ferguson does not care about who progresses.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
And, whilst Evans and his team-mates will be doing their best to shield themselves from the hype surrounding the fixture, the Northern Ireland defender knows it cannot completely be avoided.
"You don't get to appreciate it as a player," he said.
"You miss the build-up because you are trying to keep your head down and making sure you are physically and mentally right.
"But we do know the pressure will be heightened and all the eyes are on us.
"I suppose Real Madrid have always had that. They are expected and if they don't do it, there is uproar.
"But we have that pressure on us.
"I am sure it will be a great occasion and everyone is looking forward to it as much as we are."
Although no one at Old Trafford was saying it last night, that victory over Everton has put United into a virtually unassailable lead in the Premier League and offers Ferguson the option of leaving players out of domestic matches should his side progress to the later stages of Europe.
And clearly Europe matters, especially after following up the impressive appearance in three finals out of four by crashing out in the group stage last term.
"We had a great record in the Champions League until last year," said Evans.
"We have gathered that experience to make sure that we do progress and get to finals and semi-finals."
Normally, United would approach a meeting with Spain's third best team - Atletico Madrid are presently second behind runaway leaders Barcelona - with a substantial degree of confidence.
This time though, they are wary.
Real not only have a wily manager, whose head-to-head record against Ferguson is a positive one, and some well-known danger men, such as Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil, they also boast one very familiar face in Cristiano Ronaldo, who has proved impossible to stop for even the best defences.
"I am sure one or two of the lads have kept in contact with Cristiano and Nani was obviously on international duty with him," said Evans.
"He will be looking forward to the game just as much as we are.
"He has adapted his game from when he was at United.
"When he was playing here he was a right or left winger and was expected to work back a lot.
"Real Madrid don't play like that, so he has changed his game to suit them.
"There are so many other players who can cause us problems but he will be the one everyone will be looking to as the man to stop and we have to make sure we keep him quiet."
Yet Evans realises there is much more to this fixture than United against Ronaldo.
"It goes back further," he said.
"There is the history of the two clubs. It is the glamour tie of the round."
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