Champions League is Real Madrid's priority, says Ferguson

Ahead of Manchester United’s last-16 first-leg clash with the Spanish giants, the Scottish boss has claimed that Jose Mourinho’s side have written off La Liga success

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his belief that Real Madrid view winning the Champions League as their main aim this season.

The two sides are set to go head-to-head at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday evening.

And, with Los Blancos currently 16 points shy of Liga leaders Barcelona in Spain, Ferguson expects Jose Mourinho’s men to be fully committed to earning the right result.

“I think their target is the European Cup,” Ferguson told the club’s official website. “They got a bad start in the league and were chasing their tail a bit because Barcelona’s form has been incredible. I think Jose has set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt about that.

“It can be harder for us but there’s a bit of pressure for them too. At this moment in time we’re involved in three things. Jose has still got the semi-final of the Copa del Rey,  they play Barca next week and then again in a league game before we play them on the Tuesday at Old Trafford.  So they’ve got a big programme themselves.

“It’s always been important to them, the European Cup, and I don’t think it (pressure) necessarily applies to Jose as I think he’s done a great job there.

“He’s really built up a terrific squad of players and could play two teams, like us. I don’t think it applies to him but you never know in football.

“I don’t think there’s any secrecy in his own desire to win the European Cup as, don’t forget, he’d be the only person to win it with three different teams so it’s a fantastic challenge for Jose.”

Mourinho has been widely tipped to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford upon his eventual retirement and the 71-year-old Scot is looking forward to facing his Portuguese counterpart.

“I think he’s pitting his wits against me,” he continued. “I think it’s a great challenge – the two biggest clubs in the world and obviously it’s a big game for us.”

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