Marseille to step into Old Trafford cauldron

Marseille manager Didier Deschamps is unfazed by Manchester United’s home record, saying the English giants will not win on reputation alone.

Marseille travel to Old Trafford on Tuesday to wrap up the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with United.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men held the French champions to a 1-1 draw in their initial outing at the Stade Velodrome, leaving them in a strong position to advance to the quarter-finals.

United have not lost at Old Trafford since April last year, an unbeaten stretch of 24 games, and will be boosted by the shock return of Portuguese ace Nani, who is expected to play despite earlier being ruled out with a deep gash in his leg.

Deschamps is aware that the form guide heavily favours Marseille’s opponents, but warned United that his side will not be intimidated by their imperious home record.

“If you look at the statistics then it is a difficult task,” Deschamps said.

“Manchester United have not been beaten at home for 24 games and have only conceded one goal in seven Champions League matches this season.”

“Though it’s three or four years since Manchester United last won this trophy, thanks to their status they’re always among four or five teams that are favourites to win at the start of every season.”

“On paper you’d expect them to qualify but we’ve got every chance as well. Football’s not played on paper.”

“Nani did well in the first leg, he created one or two problems for us. What I like about him is that he speeds the game up and every attack involving Nani is fast, but equally the likes of (Wayne) Rooney, Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and (Ryan) Giggs can all create problems for us.”

“We’re only likely to get around three or four chances during the whole game so we’ll have to be very precise in our finishing.”

Ferguson raised eyebrows by naming seven recognised defenders in his 11 to take on Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final.

The selection gamble worked as United triumphed 2-0 over the Gunners, but Deschamps said Marseille will counter with a simple and effective plan should Ferguson make any left-field calls on Tuesday.

“Having watched the game against Arsenal first hand, I’m not sure what tactics Sir Alex will play, but we’ll do our best to attack them while keeping things tight at the back and trying not to give anything away,” Deschamps said.