Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his disappointment that Wednesday night's Champions League showdown between Manchester United and Real Madrid had not been reserved for the final at Wembley in May.
Instead, the European heavyweights meet at the last 16 stage, in a match described by Real boss Jose Mourinho as one "the whole world wants to see".
"Jose summed it up perfectly," said Ferguson. "It is the game everyone is waiting for. It is a fantastic match between two clubs who embrace the best part of football. They have won trophy nine times, which is beyond me. It is unfortunate that we are meeting as early as this. I wish it had been at Wembley."
With his side now 12 points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Ferguson regards his current squad as being better than the one which was dismantled by Barcelona in the 2011 final.
However, he recognises Wednesday's game represents a significant challenge that has to be overcome.
"People say we are not as good as the teams of the past but sometimes people have foggy impressions, I do myself at times," he said. "This team doesn't know when it is beaten. It has good individual players. But the acid test is tomorrow."