UEFA Champions League Update by Cathal Dervan
Manchester United, Barcelona and Arsenal
Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 07:15 AM
- Champion League briefs
- Carlo Ancelotti challenges born against Chelsea
- Sunderland boss Steve Bruce fumes over penalty decision
- Arsene Wenger believes in Arsenal
- Alex Ferguson praises Manchester United character
Bayern Munich have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals and revenge on their minds but Manchester United have work to do.
The Germans avenged last season’s European Cup final defeat to Inter Milan when they scored a 1-0 win, thanks to a late Mario Gomez goal, away to the holders in Wednesday night’s Last 16 first leg game.
United were also on the road for the knock-out stages but had to settle for a scoreless draw in France.
The entertainment levels were low but United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was happy with his team’s 0-0 draw in Marseille.
United will have to up the ante at home now to qualify for the quarter-finals after a drab clash.
Marseille claim they are still alive ahead of the return fixture at Old Trafford in three weeks time but Ferguson is confident.
“On our ground we will be much better,” said the Scot. “Scoring away from home is always important and we didn’t do that tonight.
“You always worry at this stage of the season because there are no bad teams left in the competition.
“But we will have two or three players back and whilst we won’t be taking anything for granted, this result is fine.”
Darren Fletcher came closest to scoring for United when his first-half effort was saved by Marseille ‘keeper Steve Mandanda.
Ferguson added: “Marseille made sure they did not lose. It was a poor game for the spectators. Nothing happened.”
England’s Wayne Rooney, asked to play wide in the absence of the injured Ryan Giggs, did earn praise from Fergie.
“Wayne did what we wanted him to do,” said the United manager.
“The way we normally set up, with Nani or Ryan Giggs on the left, gives us more natural width.
“But Wayne worked hard, as he always does. He has great spirit but he was better when we played him through the middle in a 4-4-2 at the end.”
VILLA BACKS BARCA AGAINST ARSENAL
Barcelona striker David Villa has claimed his side will beat Arsenal at the Nou Camp early next month and progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side hold a 2-1 first leg lead going to Spain on March 8th for a place in the last eight of Europe’s top tournament.
Villa scored the only Barca goal at the Emirates last week and is convinced they can pull this tie from the fire when Arsenal travel to the Catalan capital.
“I think that if we do things like we did in London, we will be on the right track,” said Villa.
“We will go through to the next round, I’m sure, because we were far superior in everything except for the result at the Emirates.
“We need to perform better in front of goal. If we do that we will go through.
“The Arsenal match is a very important match that we have to prepare for, but before Arsenal we have others and right now, the nerves, the worries and the desire to play are centered on the game against Mallorca this weekend.”
Barca boss Pep Guardiola signed a new contract at the Nou Camp this week with Villa adamant he can guide the club to a league, cup and Champions League treble.
“We can fight for the treble,” added Villa. “We are playing for three titles at the moment, and we are going to try to go step by step, with humility, to try to win all three.
“It will take a lot of hard work, but we are still alive in all three competitions and we are going to fight until the end in all three - we can only promise that.
“The manager’s new contract is great news for the club. He prefers to sign yearly contracts and that’s what works for him, but I would love to play for Guardiola for the rest of my career.”