Manchester United defender Rafael believes his side can beat anyone and is not concerned about who the three-times European champions will play in Monday’s Champions League draw.
United progressed to the knockout stage as group winners with a victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek – meaning they will avoid many of the major European teams in the round of 16.
Brazilian Rafael, who has recently returned from injury, believes avoiding the big teams is important after last season’s controversial 3-2 aggregate defeat at the hands of nine-times European champions Real Madrid.
“I can remember last season, when we also won the group and yet we played Real,” Rafael told the club’s website.
“I hope something like that doesn’t happen again but we can take anyone.”
By virtue of topping their group, United will avoid Real this time along with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Paris St-Germain and champions Bayern Munich.
Instead David Moyes and his team are looking at an easier draw on paper against the sides who finished second in their group.
Galatasaray, managed by former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, Olympiakos, Schalke, Zenit St Petersburg and AC Milan are United’s possible opponents.
United went out at the group stage two years ago and came unstuck against Real last season, when Nani was harshly sent off and the Spaniards scored two quickfire goals shortly afterwards to get through.
Rafael admits he is pleased United cannot be drawn against Bayern, who knocked the Red Devils out in 2010.
“I’ve seen Manchester City won 3-2 against Bayern Munich which is a surprise, but City finished second so we can’t play Bayern yet,” Rafael said.
“I think that is a good thing.”
The draw is scheduled for 11am GMT on Monday in Nyon with the ties to be played in February and March of next year.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.