ALEX FERGUSON SAYS tonight’s Europa League last-16 clash with Athletic Bilbao is a chance for Manchester United to leave their mark on the competition.
The Red Devils will hope for a strong performance against the Basque club as they look to make the most of their home advantage in the first leg, knowing the return fixture in Bilbao could prove to be a difficult task.
United have failed to impress in Europe so far this season after being bundled out of the Champions League in the group stage, and Ferguson side said his team would need to be switched on to avoid similar embarrassment against Bilbao.
“It’s a very difficult one, I think that what Bilbao have done is very impressive, from what we’ve seen,” Ferguson said. ”They are a very progressive team in Spain at the moment and it is going to be a very difficult game for us.
“It is a game we need to wake up in, there is no question about that. Some of our European form this year has been disappointing but it’s an opportunity to progress and we’ll have to take that opportunity. But we’ll need a very good performance.”
With dangerous Spanish international Fernando Llorente to lead their line, Ferguson is expecting Bilbao to come out on the attack at Old Trafford.
“I have watched their games recently and they press the ball very well, they not afraid to commit players forward in attack, they are very positive,” he said. ”They have no hesitation about committing themselves in attack at any point, a number of players.
“And obviously they have a particularly dangerous centre forward in Lorente, unlike centre forwards from Spain. He’s tall, six foot three, six foot four, great header of the ball, his goal scoring record is very good this year.
“So they have different qualities from a lot of Spanish teams. But they certainly in their belief in winning matches is very, very strong and that is something we are going to have to prepared for.”
Tom Cleverley and Brazilian Anderson are reported to be available for the match, but Paul Scholes is set to miss out.