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United v Marseille: What the Two Sides Say

Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Marseille and Manchester United at the Stade Velodrome on February 23, 2011 in Marseille, France.

Manchester United will host Marseille on Tuesday on the back of a simple win against a tired, exasperated and weary Arsenal side. United will hope to march on in the competition, aiming for the quarter finals -boosted by the news that Nani and Michael Carrick will be fit to play alongside long term absentee Antonio Valencia.


Sir Alex Ferguson emphasised the importance of experience at this stage of the competition against tough opposition. After all, it is a very rare occurrence when Sir Alex has not led United to this stage of the Champion League:

“It’s an important time, with us being involved in three tournaments. But we are experienced enough to do what we’re doing at the moment – taking each game as it comes.”

“We have faced that situation a million times. You have to get on with it. The team needs to step up and perform though, we know that.”

The return of Antonio Valencia is a massive boost to a United side who have lacked his skillful wing play, creativity and provision of goals. Rooney applauded Valencia recently, calling it “fantastic” to see him back on the football pitch after his broken ankle which was suffered in September in this very competition. Sir Alex knows all to well the importance of the Ecuadorian:

“With Antonio back it’s a fantastic bonus for us. It’s a great step forward considering he’s been out for such a long time.”

“It’s a great selection poser for me to have. We missed him in the run-in last season so it’s a great boost. Hopefully it will help us, having everyone available.

More positive news on the injury front followed:

“Nani and Michael Carrick trained on Sunday and Monday and both will be involved tomorrow. But we are getting players back. Ji-Sung Park is making good progress and Owen Hargreaves has started training.”

“It doesn’t matter how many players you have injured in the past, the important thing is to have them available for the run in. If we have that, then it will increase our chances.”

On the actual game, Sir Alex acknowledged the strength of the opposition who also come into the game off the back of a 2 – 0 win against their Ligue 1 title rivals Stade Rennais FC. Ferguson said:

“We have to recognise that they are experienced and powerful. It’s going to be a hard game, but it’s always a terrific atmosphere at Old Trafford, that does help us.”


The French Champions recognise that despite United’s less than convincing performances this season, they are the underdogs. Their manager, Didier Deschamps has been doing his homework on the Red Devils. Not only did he go to the United – Arsenal match at Old Trafford on Saturday, but he has been looking at the stat books:

“On paper you would expect United to qualify, but we have a little opportunity.”

“If you look at the match purely from a statistical point of view, United have not been defeated at home for a long time. They have conceded only one goal in seven Champions League games and are a very strong side, so it is a tough task.”

“In addition they are one of four or five teams who have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League.”

Deschamps continued and spoke of the first leg, claiming the 0 – 0 result was better for United than it was for them:

“It was a good result for Manchester United … if you look again at stats, if you get an away draw and do not concede, around 70 percent of the time the team goes through when they play at home.”

“We are talking about Manchester United here, they know how to manage whatever situation might occur on a European occasion.”

Perhaps a stat that Deschamp may have purposely avoided is that Manchester United have never lost to French opposition at Old Trafford.

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Submitted by DBSFootball

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  1. Pingback: United v Marseille: What the Two Sides Say | Absolute Football Info

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