Champions League last 16, first leg
Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps is relying on the passionate backing of the home crowd to give his side a valuable edge in the first leg of their tie against Manchester United FC.
While United are seeking a fifth successive quarter-final appearance, Marseille have managed just a single last-16 appearance, in 1999/2000, since they won the trophy in 1992-93. The omens are not good for the home side and Deschamps expects a tough encounter at the Stade Velodrome.
“United are a club with a lot of history; they’ve won lots of trophies and their symbol is their manager,” he said. “They have a winning culture; their message is always the same, no matter who is playing. United are an example to follow and we’ll have to produce a great performance to win.
“It’s going to be very difficult and United qualifying would be logical. But it’s two games and eliminating them would be a great performance. Going to Old Trafford will be tough as United are always harder to play at home, so we’ll try for the best possible result [here] and then we’ll see over there.
“The winning culture is their motto, it’s encoded in their DNA. They’ll be missing players but when we see Nani, [Wayne] Rooney and [Dimitar] Berbatov, we know they can make the difference.
“United win a lot of matches and don’t concede many goals. They have less fantasy than a few years ago, but they’re still a top team. We will try not to concede and to score of course. We’ll need to be strong at the back, 0-0 would not be a bad result, and defending well will be crucial.
“It’s a privilege to play such games; I know the atmosphere at the Vélodrome will be boiling.”
Deschamps welcomes back Mathieu Valbuena to the squad although Deschamps admitted he wasnot ready to start a game. Loïc Rémy and Brandão are nursing ankle injuries while medical staff say André-Pierre Gignac needs “a miracle” to recover in time to face United due to a groin problem.
The visitors have a number of injury problems for tonight’s game, but United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is confident in their ability to cope as his team begin a testing run.
“We’re involved in three competitions and want to do well in all of them,” he said. “The real competition starts tomorrow with away goals coming into play. Our midfield will be without the injured Anderson and [Ryan] Giggs but we have a lot of good players to replace them and I’m not worried.
“For the last few years English teams have been very powerful and it’s happening again this year. The standard of the Premier League has risen a lot in the last seven or eight years. We can’t talk about domination but the English clubs have good chances this year, especially with the final being played at Wembley. The Champions League this year is very open.
“Marseille are a very powerful team, athletic, with strong defenders. [Mathieu] Valbuena is back training and could be playing. We know it’s a fantastic atmosphere here and that will help Marseille.
“We have a couple of important weeks coming up with four away games in a row against [Wigan], Chelsea and Liverpool, plus the Champions League. The players are enjoying it, it’s an interesting challenge. I don’t make us favourites. Marseille have an opportunity; it’s a challenge for them too.”
United have a lengthy injury list and travelled to France without Ryan Giggs, Anderson, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Park Ji-Sung and long-term absentee Antonio Valencia.