Ryan Giggs will make his 100th European appearance tonight when when Manchester United host Lille at Old Trafford.
Fourteen years after making his European debut for United against Atlético Madrid, the 31-year-old Welsh international will be celebrating his centenary of appearances in Europe’s three European competitions.
Giggs has recovered from a hamstring injury, and will captain the side in the absence of the injured Roy Keane.
Coach Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that his team were “trying to stay in the slipstream of Chelsea hoping they slip up” and admitted that Europe might represent their best opportunity of winning a trophy this season..
“It is silly to think about them being champions [already but] Chelsea are relentless at the moment, and of course in the UEFA Champions League you have the opportunity to win it within 15 matches whereas we’d have to win it in another 30 in England,” he said.
With Wayne Rooney serving the second of his two-match suspension, Paul Scholes will line up behind Ruud van Nistelrooij in the United attack.
Meanwhile, Lille coach Claude Puel believes that United are no longer the force they were in 2001/02 when the clubs last met.
“They were a more complete side then; they played very much as a group,” he said.
“That is not to say they are not a team to fear but I think the difference is they were more of a unit then. Now they have a lot of young players with huge qualities and individuals that can make a difference on the day.”
Lille’s Nigerian forward Peter Odemwingie believes the absence of Rooney will help his team.
“Definitely it is going to be easier for our defenders that he is not in the team,” he said.