Marseille coach Didier Deschamps has dismissed talk of a weakened Manchester United without the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs.
United left for Marseille on Tuesday without Ferdinand, Giggs, Michael Owen and Jonny Evans, all of who are under injury clouds.
That should have come as welcome news to Deschamps, whose side will host the Red Devils in the home leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday.
But the coach of the French champions is adamant United are no less dangerous despite their numerous absentees, saying Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have winning in their blood.
“The winning culture is part of the DNA at a club like Manchester United,” Deschamps said.
“They always have talented players and people such as Nani, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov can make the difference at any time.”
“I have heard a lot about their style of play. But the most important thing is winning games. I concentrate on the fact they conceded one goal in six games.”
“Maybe there is less fantasy about them than there was in the past but the Marseille team I was part of in 1993 wasn’t the nicest and we still won the European Cup.”
Former France captain Patrice Evra will line up for United in his first appearance in his native land since Les Bleus’ World Cup debacle last July.
Evra received a five-match ban for his part in France’s player revolt, which began after Nicolas Anelka was expelled from South Africa for insulting former national coach Raymond Domenech.
Deschamps, who once managed Evra at French club AS Monaco, defended the 29-year-old amid concerns he will receive a hostile reception from the Marseille faithful.
“Okay, Patrice Evra was the captain in South Africa but there were a lot of staff around him who were linked to that as well,” Deschamps said.
“I prefer to remember what happened when he played for me at Monaco. I am really proud of what he has done since then at a great club like Manchester United.”