The last of the first-leg matches of the Champions League's Round of 16 are Wednesday, and Premier League side Manchester United looks to get a leg up with a win at middle-of-the-road La Liga club Sevilla.
Sevilla have never progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League but they boast an impressive six victories from their last nine European home matches so United will be wary of a team who won the Europa League three times between 2014 and 2016.
"Playing against Mourinho? I'm excited, for me he's an innovator and when I started coaching he's somebody I studied".
Montella said United were favourites, and had warm words for Mourinho, Pogba and also Alexis Sánchez - a "fantastic" player who he said could be stopped only by "tying him down with rope".
The question remains whether Mourinho, who extended his contract in January to 2020, and Pogba can reconcile their differences for the common good.
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This is Sevilla's first-ever meeting in a UEFA competition against Manchester United. When a player is in that situation it is because the players are normally ready and without problems. I just think that tomorrow and in a few weeks at Old Trafford the two teams are very balanced. "I don't like that kind of approach", Mourinho told a news conference on Tuesday.
When I don't want to say things, I don't say (them).But I don't take you in other directions.
"I don't think it's fair to speak about the responsibilities of a player", he said.
Sevilla finished runners up in Group E and like United only lost one game.
"Mourinho still has the conundrum of what he does with Paul [Pogba]", said retired Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
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Arsenal hold a 3-0 lead from the first leg in Sweden last week and will not take any risks in the return game at the Emirates. Arsenal will only qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, says the club's former player Robert Pires.
Any team that reach the quarter-finals has a chance.
Wednesday will only be Montella's second match coaching in the Champions League, with predecessor Eduardo Berizzo having led Sevilla to second place in Group E. That's what we will be looking to do and take each game as it comes.
"If people underestimate us, they should look at what we're doing at the moment, our performances, the fact we've got to a final already and we're still in all competitions".
The Spain global will be hoping to feature on his return to his native country as Manchester United look to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Last season, Mourinho expertly guided his team to victory in the Europa League despite suffering several key injuries and having an nearly overwhelming schedule of games to navigate.
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Montella admits he has huge respect for Mourinho and has been reading books about someone he reckons is a "pioneer" in the game.