I'm sure there will be goals in Real Madrid game: Ferguson

MADRID (AFP) - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson appeared relaxed and confident and promised goals on the eve of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid here on Wednesday.

United head into the game against the Spanish champions flying high at the top of the Premier League and with a healthy squad, and the veteran Scot believes his team have a great chance of progressing.

"The game has come at a good time for us, we're doing well in the Premier League and we come to Madrid in good form," he told a packed press room at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I've got everybody fit that I need to be fit and we're all looking forward to it.

"It's a fantastic challenge to come here and play Real Madrid and it should be a great game with two teams who embrace the best parts of football.

"I'm sure there will be goals, it won't be 0-0," added Ferguson, who will renew his friendship and rivalry with opposite number Jose Mourinho.

Earlier Mourinho had admitted that he is likely to return to the Premier League when his time in the Spanish capital does come to an end, with many tipping the Portuguese to be Ferguson's eventual successor at Old Trafford.

The current incumbent of the United bench was full of praise for Mourinho and his past record as a manager in England's top flight, which saw him win two league titles with Chelsea.

"He transformed Chelsea, they caught us on the hop and we were chasing them for a couple of years. He has won the Champions League with two different teams and has won a lot of trophies now for a young man," he added.

Mourinho had declared it unlikely that he will ever take over from Ferguson at United, joking that the Scot could continue as manager at the club until he is 90.

"It's against the law to force retirement but I won't be working until I'm 90," joked Ferguson in response.

"But while I'm enjoying it and my health is good I'll carry on." In goal for United on Wednesday night will be David de Gea, the former Atletico Madrid 'keeper who is back in his home town.

He admitted that the absence of Spain's World Cup-winning captain Iker Casillas from the home goal because of a fractured hand could be an advantage to the visitors.

"I think it can be an advantage for us, they have two other good goalkeepers but Iker is the Spanish national side's 'keeper and will be a big loss for them," he replied, with Diego Lopez likely to start for Madrid in Casillas' absence.

"It could be important for us to play at home in the second leg but to enjoy that advantage we have to get a good result here tomorrow," he added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.