Pochettino picks Barcelona as favourites to win Champions League
(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has said Barcelona will have the edge in their much-anticipated Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United and has backed the Spanish club to lift the title for a sixth time.
United have rediscovered their verve under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took over from Jose Mourinho in December, and has guided the club to 14 wins in 19 games.
Pochettino, however, feels United still have a lot of work to do to compete with Barcelona, who are 10 points clear at the top of the La Liga standings.
“If there is one favourite team to win Champions League it is Barcelona,” former Espanyol boss Pochettino told reporters.
“(Ernesto) Valverde is doing a great job. They have players of extraordinary level, and then they have Lionel Messi.
“I think the Manchester United team that has been built during the past few years was built to win big things. But I think Barcelona are one step higher than Manchester United.”
Spurs will face domestic rivals Manchester City in the quarter-finals, with Pochettino indicating Pep Guardiola’s reigning English champions are built to win Europe’s elite trophy.
“It is clear that Manchester City are a team designed to win and with an obligation to win,” he added.
“We will try to compete. We know that in short tournaments the fitness of the team at the time is very important. We have the incentive that we have a new stadium and we will play with 62,000 spectators. That will create a special energy.”
Tottenham will complete the move to their new 62,000-seater stadium before they host City on April 9.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)