Champions League

Marseille out to upset United

2011-03-14 16:58
Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester - After a stalemate in France, Manchester United must overcome a Marseille side that hasn't conceded a goal in five consecutive Champions League matches to reach the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

It is almost six months since Marseille's stingy defense was breached in Europe, with United's Premier League rival Chelsea securing a 2-0 victory in the group stage on September 28.

But Marseille head to Old Trafford beset by turmoil away from the pitch after preliminary charges of rape were filed against striker Brandao, who has been allowed to return to Brazil by the club.

Two players held up a jersey with Brandao's name during Friday's 2-0 win at Rennes - a move that was criticized by president Jean-Claude Dassier but backed by coach Didier Deschamps.

"We will have to show solidarity, be strong," defender Souleymane Diawar said.

Marseille, who drew 0-0 with United in France, are bidding to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the European Cup in the 1992-3 season.

"It will be a totally different match compared to the first leg," Diawar said on the club website. "At home they score a lot of goals. We will have to make sure that they are not able to do so. We will not let anything go."

To advance, Marseille must become the first French side to win at Old Trafford.

"They'll be planning on how they're going to score a goal and I think they'll try to start the game very quickly, that's a certainty, and we have to be prepared for that part," United manager Ferguson said. "But as the game unfolds, you hope you take your opportunities.

"I went to watch Marseille play in Rennes - who are second in the league - on Friday night to get a better idea of how they play away from home and we've also seen them play at Monaco so we've done our homework."

Ferguson's gamble of resting veteran midfielders Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs ahead of the Marseille match paid off, with a United side packed with seven defenders overcoming Arsenal 2-0 to reach the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday.

There was also a boost for the three-time European champions on Monday morning when Nani returned to training. The winger had not been expected to recover from a leg injury until next month.

"He is one of the best players in the world," Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou said.

While United are top of the Premier League, Marseille is fourth in the French standings, four points behind leader Lille.

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