Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao - Match Preview
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are in ravishing form in the domestic league after the defeat against Blackburn Rovers on New Years Eve and also an embarrassing loss against the Magpies during the first week of the New Year. Sir Alex Ferguson would like Manchester United to continue the same run in the Europa League when they meet the Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.
Europe hasn’t exactly been a good outing for the English Champions this season where their home form has not been that great. United have won just one of their four Home games this season even losing their last match against the Dutch Side Ajax. United salvaged a goal against Ajax which saw them go through to the next stage of the League which they are not familiar with.
Rio Ferdinand’s form in the past two months has been terrific where he has filled the void left by club captain Nemanja Vidic after twisting his ankle against Basel. Michael Carrick is also gaining more confidence and playing his best season ever at United. Carrick and Ferdinand were the two players criticized in the beginning of the season due to their form. Also United’s Goal Keeper David De Gea has shown a great improvement over a short period of time and was named the Player of the Month for February.
United have players coming back from Injury where Chris Smalling and Anderson are likely to play against Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford. Tom Cleverley and Antonio Valencia are likely to play in the return fixture. United will be looking to carry a two goal advantage after the first leg.
Marcelo Bielsa has been an inspiration for Athletic Bilbao this season where they are 4th at the moment in the La liga and have a great chance to make it into Champions League next season. Bilbao will face Barcelona in the finals of the Copa Del Rey in late May.
Bilbao’s domestic form has been really good with Fernando Llorente leading the attack with Javi Martinez in Midfield. Llorente is the club’s top scorer this season for Bilbao scoring 20 goals. Athletic Bilbao are having a very good run in Europe this year as they have lost only two games. They were once almost heading towards the exit in last their last match, but due to the away goals rule they have entered the next round.
It will definitely be a cracking encounter where the two European greats meet for the second time in the history of the game where in the previous encounter United won 6-5 over aggregate during Sir Matt Busby’s time. Will Sir Alex Ferguson’s side be able to create history once again or will Bilbao stretch United’s poor Home run by winning the first leg? Come this Thursday night, all questions will be answered.