Valencia should have been sent off, says Sammer

The 46-year-old feels the Ecuadorian should have received the same treatment as Bastian Schweinsteiger and insists Tuesday’s match was always going to be tough

Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer feels Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia should have been sent off in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford.

Already on a booking, the Ecuadorian winger threw himself into a challenge with Jerome Boateng during Bayern’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Tuesday night.

He escaped punishment from referee Carlos Velasco, although the official later sent off Bayern goalscorer Bastian Schweinsteiger after the midfielder picked up a second caution for a foul on Wayne Rooney.

“If you apply the same standards then I don’t know how Valencia stays on,” Sammer told Sky. 

“If the referee has a policy, then he must go through with it.

“There’s no question that what Schweini did was a foul, but with Valencia there will also several fouls and his outstretched leg against Jerome Boateng.

“At this level you have to apply the same standards.”

Many thought holders Bayern would brush aside a faltering United in the first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday, but David Moyes’ men held their own to remain in with a chance heading to Munich next week.

Despite the two sides’ differing fortunes so far this season – Bayern have already retained their Bundesliga title, while United sit seventh in the Premier League – Sammer insists he knew the tie would be no straightforward task.

“We sounded a warning ahead of the game in Manchester but people turn a deaf ear at times,” he added.

“They played just as we expected. They were very strong physically, organised and they tried to play on the counter.

“They managed that really well and they made life difficult for us.

“But that’s what you expect in the Champions League – it’s the top level of the game. So we accept it and we’re happy with the result.”

The special relationship: Mourinho and Ibrahimovic’s great love affair

The Portuguese coach and Swedish striker only spent one season working together at Inter but they continue to hold one another in the highest esteem

By Mark Doyle

Break-ups are never easy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic discovered this when he decided to leave Inter for Barcelona in 2009. Just before his departure, the striker came face to face with then coach Jose Mourinho at the team hotel in California the day after a pre-season friendly against Club America.

“I noticed he was furious and upset,” Ibrahimovic wrote in his autobiography, ‘I am Zlatan’. “He didn’t want to lose me, and he had put me on the bench for that training match, and I was feeling it too: no matter how happy I was to be going to Barca, it was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special.”

Mourinho, of course, essentially christened himself ‘The Special One’. But Ibrahimovic would quickly conclude that it was a most fitting moniker. Indeed, the attacker realised that Mourinho was not like other coaches even before they had met in person for the first time.

During the summer of 2008 the Sweden international was representing his country at the European Championship. After his country’s group clash with Spain, he received a message from Inter’s new boss.

“I get a ton of texts all the time,” the forward explained with characteristic hubris. “But this one was from Mourinho. ‘Well played’, he wrote, and then gave me some advice, and I promise you, I stopped in my tracks. I’d never had that before. A text message from the coach!

“I replied and got more messages. It was like, wow, Mourinho’s checking me out. I felt appreciated.”

Ibrahimovic knew full well why Mourinho was sending him those texts (“He manipulates players like no one else … He wanted my loyalty”) but that did not make him any less receptive to the Portuguese’s flattery.

Mourinho quickly built strong emotional ties with every player in the Inter dressing room with his attention to detail on and off the field. The former Porto boss knew everything about the opposition full-back – but he also knew everything about his players’ families.

“I rate him as one of the best players I have ever coached

Jose Mourinho

“He’s nice,” Ibra explained. “The first time he met Helena [Ibra’s partner], he whispered to her: ‘Helena, you have only one mission. Feed Zlatan, let him sleep, keep him happy!’ That bloke says whatever he wants. I like him. He’s the leader of his army. But he cares, too.

“He’s the exact opposite of [Pep] Guardiola. If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains. I guessed that Guardiola was trying to match up to him.”

It is, of course, impossible to talk about Ibrahimovic’s unique relationship with Mourinho without bringing up Guardiola. They are the two coaches with whom he will forever be most associated. Whereas Ibra took to the Portuguese even before they had met, the Malmo native was immediately suspicious of the former Barcelona coach’s man-management.

Mourinho was warm and engaging. Guardiola was apparently cold and distant. Mourinho made Ibra feel important. Guardiola made Ibra feel like he was “different”. Ibra initially tried to toe the line at Camp Nou but it was only a matter of time before the ‘real’ Zlatan stood up.

After allegedly having been made to feel like he was to blame for Barca’s Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Inter, Ibrahimovic finally let rip at Guardiola after a Liga game at Villarreal.

“I yelled, ‘You haven’t got any balls,’ and certainly even worse than that, and then I added, ‘You’re shitting yourself in front of Mourinho. You can go to hell!'”

Of course, stories such as these reinforce the belief that Ibrahimovic is almost impossible to manage. However, Mourinho insists that nothing could be further from the truth.

“I don’t understand when people say he is a difficult guy to work with, or a difficult personality,” the Chelsea boss insisted. “A difficult personality [is] when you have to work with people who don’t want to win or don’t want to improve.

“When you have somebody that is a winner and wants to win all the time and wants to be the best and is not afraid of the big responsibilities, I think he is very, very easy.

“I only coached him for a year but it was a good year, a good experience – I rate him as one of the best players I have ever coached.”

Fear Factor | Ibrahimovic infamously accused Pep Guardiola of being afraid of Mourinho

Which is precisely why Mourinho has been warning his players about the threat the Paris Saint-Germain ace poses to Chelsea’s hopes of winning this season’s Champions League. Ibrahimovic has won league titles in five different countries yet he has never lifted the European Cup.

During that final conversation at the team hotel before he left for Barca, Mourinho asked Ibrahimovic, “So, you’re going to Barca to win the Champions [League], huh? … But we’re the ones who’re gonna bring it home – don’t forget. It’s gonna be us!”

Ibrahimovic has never forgotten that prophetic jibe. And Mourinho knows it; he is well aware that the Swede’s “dream” is to lift the formerly-named European Cup.

“Zlatan is a special player, who has won all the championships and he wants to win the Champions League now, which will make him ever more dangerous [than usual],” Mourinho conceded.

However, whatever the outcome of Chelsea’s quarter-final tie with PSG, nothing will change between Mourinho and Ibrahimovic. In Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, Ibra hailed Mourinho as someone “I have always agreed with, a great coach.”

They survived their bitter break-up and, as Mourinho said recently, “We’re in contact. We’re friends.”

A special manager. A special player. A special relationship.

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Boateng: Bayern must rediscover cutting edge

The Germany international feels the title holders must step up their game in next week’s return if they are to progress

Jerome Boateng has voiced his disappointment with Bayern Munich’s display against Manchester United on Tuesday as the Bundesliga champions were held to a 1-1 draw in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie at Old Trafford.

Bayern enjoyed the majority of possession, but failed to create many clear-cut chances and even fell 1-0 behind when Nemanja Vidic found the net after the break.

Bastian Schweinsteiger restored parity shortly after to help the Bavarians to a draw, but Boateng has insisted they must do better in the return if they are to reach the semi-finals.

“We know they have quality players, but I think over the whole game we must be a bit disappointed because we had so much of the ball and didn’t create so many chances,” Boateng told Uefa’s official website.

“We must move the ball quicker and create more chances; then I think we can get a good result at home. I am still confident.

“In the end it is a good result as we finished with 10 men but over the whole game we had a lot of the ball but didn’t create too many chances and paid for it at a corner.

“We deserved a draw although they played well on the counterattack. I think at home we have a big chance of going through to the next round.”

The return at the Allianz Arena is scheduled to take place on April 9.

Buttner: Manchester United can reach semi-finals

The second-choice left-back, who performed admirably in his duel with Arjen Robben, was delighted to be picked for the crunch clash and is confident his side can progress

Alexander Buttner is adamant that Manchester United can still reach the semi-finals of the Champions League – despite a 1-1 first-leg draw at home to Bayern Munich.

The Premier League titleholders took a surprise lead at Old Trafford despite watching Bayern dominate possession, with Nemanja Vidic converting Wayne Rooney’s corner after 58 minutes.

Bastian Schweinsteiger equalised for the Bavarians nine minutes later, although Buttner has seen enough to convince him that United are capable of getting a positive result at Allianz Arena.

He told Sky Sports: “Of course we can do it. We always believe in ourselves. We had chances to score more goals and we have to focus on that. Defensively, we did well, we didn’t give a lot away, just a goal, and I think we have a good chance.

“It was nice to play. For me it was my first big game and I think I did well. We know they can play good football and for myself I defended well against one of the best wingers. It’s good to play a good game.”

The left-back also denied that he deliberately handled the ball after Rafinha’s blasted effort struck the former Vitesse star’s arm.

He added to Dutch TV channel NOS: “I kept my arms together and didn’t do it on purpose. I couldn’t have done it any other way.”

David de Gea, meanwhile, hailed United’s support at Old Trafford and Tweeted: “Great atmosphere in Old Trafford!!! Thanks again for your incredible support! You’re the best. Look forward to 2nd leg. #MUFC”

Schweini goes from hero to villain while Neymar rescues Barca – Tuesday's Champions League in pics

The first of the Champions League quarter-finals got off to an edgy start with two one-all draws, with Manchester United holding Bayern and Atletico nullifying Barcelona

Tuesday saw the return of the Champions League, with the first pair of quarter-finals offering mouth-watering ties between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, and Barcelona and La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Both first legs turned out to be closer than expected, with out-of-form United holding reigning champions Bayern to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and Atleti coming away from Camp Nou with the same scoreline.

Goal selects the best imagery from the evening’s fixtures …

Camp Nou was packed to the rafters for their all-Spanish affair against Atletico

Old Trafford showed a united front as it braced itself for the visit of Bayern

Barca suffered an early setback when Gerard Pique fell awkwardly and had to be substituted

Bayern players surrounded Antonio Valencia after he picked up a yellow for a foul on Philipp Lahm

Atletico faced the tough task of keeping Lionel Messi quiet on his home turf

They were dropping like flies as Diego Costa was next to be replaced

It was later confirmed that the Spain international had suffered a hamstring injury

Danny Welbeck was put through just before half-time but the striker failed to beat Manuel Neuer

At half-time Pep Guardiola had plenty to ponder as he headed down the tunnel at Old Trafford

On 56 minutes the Nou Camp was silenced by a stunning goal from Diego

The Theatre of Dreams was bouncing on 58 minutes when Nemanja Vidic headed home

But Bastian Schweinsteiger equalised less than 10 minutes later

The midfielder wheeled away to celebrate with the away supporters

The Barcelona crowd were pacifed on 77 minutes when Andres Iniesta slipped Neymar through …

… and the Brazilian found the far corner with the aid of a slight deflection

Bayern’s night ended on a sour note as Bastian Schweinsteiger received a second yellow