Date: 23rd February 2011 at 3:00pm
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United take on Marseille in the Champions League tonight  in the first knockout stage of the competition and whilst it appears that we didn’t get as harsh a draw as we could have the game will still be tough.

Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea have all picked up wins in the first legs of their ties and we will be looking to follow suit especially with Sir Alex claiming English clubs could go on to dominate Europe as they have done previously.

Marseille are the reigning French champions and are although sitting third in Ligue 1 are just 3 points off top so they will be no pushover.

Much has been made of Evra’s return to France as well as Heinze’s first appearance against United since his bitter departure in 2007 but much has been done to downplay both events particularly with Heinze speaking on how he regrets the way he left United and Sir Alex reiterating that there is no problem with the Argentine defender.

Teams: United flew to Marseille minus 7 first team players with Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Ji-sung Park, Ryan Giggs, Anderson and Antonio Valnecia remaining at home. This means Chris Smalling is likely to continue his recent run beside Nemanja Vidic in the heart of defence. The absences of Anderson and Giggs weakens our options but we should be able to fashion a strong XI from the squad we took over there.

Marseille are awaiting news on Loic Remy whilst England conqueror Matthieu Valbuena has declared himself fit following a knee injury that has kept him out since January but Brandão and André-Pierre Gignac are both set to miss out.

Form: United remain focused despite fears the defeat at Wolves would throw us out of our stride. The defeat, just our second this season, seems to have had little bearing on our ambitions as we went straight back to winning ways beating both Man C*ty and Crawley Town.

Marseille too are on a decent run themselves and haven’t tasted defeat in 6 games with4 victories and 2 draw.

United Last 6: WWWLWW

Marseille Last 6: DWDWWW

Last Meeting: United have met Marseille just once before in the group stages of the 1999/2000 competition. A 2-1 victory at home with goals from Scholes and Cole was negated by a 1-0 defeat in France courtesy of a William Gallas goal. The goal handed United their first defeat in the competition since a defeat to Juventus in 1997.

Facts: A win here tonight would be United’s 150th in the competition.

United have a pretty good away record going into the game with 9 wins out of the last 10 *thumbs nose at the spectre of our worrying away form*

Marseille on the other hand haven’t lost at home game in any competition since a defeat against Spartak Moscow back in September.

So get ready for a draw then!

The game will be a tough one but I think a lot is being made of the 7 absent players. Of the travelling party we have enough quality to get something from this game and the players Marseille are missing are will be a big knock to their chances. I think it will be a tight game but one we are well capable of winning, look for a United 1-0 win if not a draw.

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