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Jan 12, 2009

Mourinho: United are the best, but we can win

Jose Mourinho has hailed Manchester United as the best team in the world - but insists his Inter Milan side can win their Champions League last-16 tie.

The former Chelsea boss welcomes Sir Alex Ferguson's United to the San Siro for the first leg on February 24, with the second match at Old Trafford two weeks later.

Mourinho is no stranger to competing with United on the biggest stage, having dramatically beaten Ferguson's side on the way to European Cup glory with Porto and then helped Chelsea twice edge out the Red Devils in the battle for the Premier League trophy.

The 45-year-old's reunion comes with United having won a Premier League and Champions League double, and Mourinho is under no illusions about the size of Inter's task - after travelling to Manchester to watch yesterday's 3-0 win over Chelsea.

He told MUTV: ''I always had big, big, big respect (for United). That's why I remember my time with Porto here as one of the most important for me, because we beat such an amazing club - and that's why I'm so excited to play with Inter Milan against Man Utd.

''When I said 'I want Man Utd', some people maybe thought 'this guy is crazy' - because he wants the top team - but I want it because they are the top, because it's difficult and because it's special and for my team and my players, it's a different thing.

''I won't need to motivate people because they are already motivated. The best (competitions) match players against the best - and the best at the moment is here.

''We can win it. We know Man Utd is a special team with special players. You look at how solid they are in defence and how dangerous they are in attack. You look to the dug-out and you see the talent is there; I look behind me, and even Nani is behind me.

''But Inter is a clever team, an intelligent team, a team with a lot of experience. We have some talent and we know how to play the game, so I think it will be a close match.''

Mourinho will have to try to nullify the threat of his Portuguese compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, who tonight was named FIFA World Player of the Year following his stellar 2007/08 campaign - when he netted 42 goals.

Mourinho believes the right man won.

''I never say the other side has the best player in the world. But I think in the last year, because of the trophies he won and the contribution he gave, the goals he scored, I think he deserves it,'' the Inter boss added.

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