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Thierry Henry, Montreal Impact respect CD Olimpia: "They fight until the end"

MONTREAL — Manager Thierry Henry and the Montreal Impact have had little time to prepare for the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal tie against CD Olimpia Tuesday night at the Stade Olimpique (8 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, TSN1, RDS).

But Henry says he has a lot of respect for the club that upset the Seattle Sounders to reach their third quarterfinals berth in club history. 

“The staff and I carefully looked at what we need to do against this team,” Henry said. “They’re a tough team, let’s not forget that they knocked out the MLS champions, that’s not something to disregard. It’s a team that we need to respect.”

The Impact played a 2-2 draw to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium last Saturday. Henry’s squad took a charter flight home from Texas on the same night to train at Olympic Stadium on Sunday and Monday.

“It’s not easy to manage, but we need to deal with it,” Henry said. “We came back [on the same night], we need to look at who’s injured, who’s not injured. There’s a game, we need to show up and try to start well in the home leg.”

However, Henry refused to admit his club has a disadvantage because of the short turnaround. The Frenchman thinks that fans will get an interesting matchup at the Big O.

“They fight up until the end,” Henry said. “When you watch the game in Seattle where they went all the way with them toe to toe on their turf and they went through. They’re a team that has a big heart, very strong, physical and great on set pieces.” 

Conventional wisdom suggests the key will be earning the best result possible in the first leg. But a veteran of many two-legged ties in his playing days in Europe, Henry re-iterated his stance in the round of 16, that all 180 minutes require the same level of focus.

“I don’t really care about home or away," he said. "You play a game, it’s the same field so I don’t really pay attention to it.

“After that the perfect scenario would be to score and not concede but I also saw teams scoring, not concede and still lose. In history, I saw Barcelona score three goals against Liverpool and concede four [in the return leg], we thought it was over.”

Unlike Montreal's round-of-16 triumph over Saprissa, Henry will have two reinforcements available: Designated Player signing Victor Wanyama and fellow midfielder Emanuel Maciel.

The Impact have allowed late goals in their first CCL match against Saprissa and again in Dallas. For Henry, Montreal’s backline need to be more proactive in its defending, though he recognizes that's part of their development. 

“It didn’t just happen to us, it also happened to the MLS champions [against Olimpia], so it is what it is. You need to learn to not defend too low,” Henry said. “That’s something that we need to work on and we will work on it, it’s a process that we need to trust.”