Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says the UEFA Champions League is much harder to win now than when he first became manager.
Ferguson will celebrate his 26th year in charge of the club when United face Braga on Wednesday.
United have won Europe’s elite club competition twice during the Scot’s long tenure, in 1999 and 2008.
They were beaten finalists in 2009 and 2011, leaving Ferguson better placed than most to judge how tough it is to win.
“I think the Champions League is a fantastic tournament now and the transition from it just being the champions of each country to a league format has made it more appealing,” he said.
“You are getting the best clubs, two or three in some cases, from the best countries. It is an opportunity to regularly play against the best sides in Europe and that makes it an appealing tournament.
“I think it is a difficult tournament to win any time but there has been a marked difference in the last two years and there have been some surprise results. Last year a team from Nicosia in Cyprus got to the quarter-final and that is a massive change from normal and you have got a lot of money in Russia, so Russian teams are doing well now.”
United midfielder Anderson also fronted the media prior to the Braga game, with the Brazilian documenting his injury woes since joining from Porto in 2007.
“No footballer wants to be injured,” Anderson said.
“Unfortunately I was injured for two years in a row. That’s way too much for a career. It’s very sad when a footballer is known for his injuries.
“I was lucky because Man Utd had patience with me and now I’m practically healed. Hopefully I will avoid new injuries in order to help my club.”