Champions League preview: Marseille v Manchester United

Manchester United travel to the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday for a Champions League round-of-16 tie against French champions Marseille.

United have an impressive recent pedigree in European competition.

They won the tournament in 2008 and reached the final the following season before losing to Barcelona.

In 2010, United dispatched Italian giants AC Milan to set-up a quarter-final with Bayern Munich.

They appeared to be cruising towards a fourth successive semi-final berth before losing Wayne Rooney to an ankle injury.

Strikes from Arjen Robben and Ivica Olic helped Bayern dump United out 4-4 on the away goals and without Rooney they stumbled to second place in the English Premier League behind Chelsea.

They lead the league table by four points ahead of Arsenal this season and have only lost twice in all competitions.

Marseille captured the French league championship for the first time in 18 years under coach Didier Deschamps last year and are three points behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille this season.

They have won five of their last six in all competitions, are unbeaten at home in 12 matches and could prove a difficult prospect for a United team who were less than convincing in their 1-0 win over non-league Crawley Town in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Marseille will be without midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, who has been sidelined since January, leaving Benoit Cheyrou and Lucho Gonzalez as the key men in the middle of the pitch.

Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac is also out after picking up a groin strain, forcing Deschamps to sweat on the fitness of forwards Luc Remy and Brandao.

United have a number of long-term absentees still on the sidelines, including midfielders Park Ji-Sung, Antonio Valencia and Owen Hargreaves.

And the news got worse on Tuesday with Ryan Giggs and centre-back Rio Ferdinand among seven players ruled out of the trip.

With fellow defender Jonny Evans also out, Chris Smalling will be expected to deputize alongside Nemanja Vidic.

 


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