San Mames Stadium
15 March 2012, Thursday (16 March 2012, Friday Malaysia)
18:00 GMT (2.00 am Malaysia)
Man United will head to San Mames Stadium, home of Athletico Bilbao, at Basque region, to fight the place into the last eight. The Red Devils were completely outplayed by the Spanish outfit in the first leg tie at Old Trafford. The reigning English Champion should find Athletico much tougher at home as the Basque team hasn’t lost at home in six European games and they will fight at their level best to reach their first European quarterfinal in 45 years.
Man United surely will have hard game there. But both team had different result in their domestic fixtures prior this game. Athletico was defeated at home 1-2 by Osasuna that brought down the five games unbeaten while Man United defeated West Brom 2-0 at home. However this will be different ball game for both team.
There was report saying that Athletico hot shot Fernando Llorente will miss this game due to injury. If this is true it could be good news to Man United. Llorenta who scored Athletico only goal against Osasuna, now already had 22 goals in all competition under his belt. He is now Spain main striker as Fernando Torres already out of form while David Villa is injured. In the first leg his presence really cause havoc at Man United defense.
There was also rumour that saying Man United is ready to let go the Europa League to focus on defending Premier League title. So Sir Alex Ferguson will throw young and inexperienced squad for this game. But I believed that is not Man United way. After been kick out from the glamorous Championship League, Man United really needs to win this Europa League to salvage some pride that left. And after all why focus on one title if we could win two. Though Man United is at the top of the Premier League now, it’s only a very slim lead. Man United fixtures showed much easier run in compared to Man City but that is not enough to put a bet. In football anything could happen.
So I believed Sir Alex will field stronger squad for this game. De Gea is the main shot stopper now. Lindegaard will find it hard to dislodge the Spaniard. Ferguson will need the experience Ferdinand so he will play together with Evra, Evans and Jones. At the center of the park Carrick and Scholes had showed that they are the best. Cleverley and Pogba will be the cover. Young surely starts on the left. Not sure about Nani. If he is out than Welbeck who played as right winger will continue playing at this slot. But if Ferguson thinks he need to rest Welbeck than Ji Sung Park will play. At the front the always energetic Rooney will also in. He had been such inspirational lately for his team. He could rally the team and give the much needed belief when thing going awry. He is also a match winner. Could not rest him for this game. Hernandez will be Rooney partner. The Mexican had showed his determination and hunger for goal just luck not on his side. His pace, trickery and skills will trouble Athletico.
So Glory Glory Man United