Fletcher heeds Real warning

Midfielder takes nothing for granted as United eye third straight final

Fletcher: Respects Euro rivals

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Darren Fletcher is confident Manchester United will heed the warning of Real Madrid's shock exit after discovering their potential route to the Champions League final.

Despite a summer spending spree that included the £80million signing of United star Cristiano Ronaldo, nine-time winners Real failed to reach the last eight of Europe's premier club competition for a sixth straight year as they were dumped out by French side Lyon.

United avoided favourites Barcelona, English rivals Arsenal and Inter Milan in Friday's quarter-final draw, which saw them paired with Bayern Munich.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men would then have to overcome either Lyon or Bordeaux to reach a third successive final.

Presumptuous

But midfielder Fletcher believes United will take nothing granted as they aim to emulate their triumphs of 1999, when they beat Bayern in the final, and 2008.

"You can be too presumptuous and start looking too far ahead," he said.

"People can say various things about the draw but the fact is these teams are in this competition because they have beaten big sides along the way.

"You don't get to the quarter or semi-final of the Champions League by being a poor side.

"The warning signs are there. If you go into a tie underestimating a team like Lyon, for instance, you will be out."

While Bayern needed to win their last two group games to snatch a place in the knockout stage from Juventus, they have plenty of pedigree in the competition.

The German giants are four-time winners, claiming their last European crown in 2001 after being denied by United in the 1999 final.

Tough draw

Louis van Gaal's men scored twice in Florence to beat Fiorentina on away goals and reach the last eight, and they boast the likes of pacy widemen Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

"It is a tough draw," Fletcher added. "Outside of Barcelona, it is probably as tough as you could have got.

"We played them in pre-season and we were very impressed with them under Louis van Gaal. Since Christmas they have hit a bit of form. They have understood the way Louis van Gaal wants them to play.

"In Robben and Ribery, they have two of the best wingers in world football and are definitely a real danger in the tournament."

The first leg is at the Allianz Arena on 30th March with the return at Old Trafford on 7th April.

Who will win the Champions League?

  • Arsenal
  • Bordeaux
  • Inter Milan
  • Bayern Munich
  • CSKA Moscow
  • Man Utd
  • Barcelona
  • Lyon