Manchester United v Lyon
Sir Alex Ferguson tonight takes charge of his 1000th game at Manchester United.
Avoiding defeat will ensure qualification for the second round knockout stage but United will want to take all three points so they can push for a top-spot finish in Fenerbahce in two weeks time.
Lyon, meanwhile, have already secured their safe passage and, with a home game to come against bottom club Sparta Prague, will be confident of winning the group if they can avoid defeat this evening.
Ferguson has managed all of United’s 105 games in the Champions League for nine consecutive seasons.
He said: “Some of my greatest moments have been in European matches and hopefully we’ll have another one against Lyon.
During Ferguson’s 18-year reign as United manager he has guided them to Champions League glory in 1999 and a Cup Winners Cup title in 1991.
Ferguson admitted he had changed since joining United in November 1986.
“Physically I have changed,” he said. “I am a bit older. And emotionally, I’ve changed a little bit too.
“I have also mellowed a lot.”
While Lyon may have already qualified, they know an away win would guarantee first place in the group – meaning they avoid the likes of Chelsea and Juventus in the next round.
Lyon coach, Paul Le Guen, said: “Our situation might have been quite different had we not beaten Fenerbahçe four-two at the beginning of November, but we did and the pressure is not on us any more.
“Physically and tactically we have done our homework.”
The French league leaders are struggling with injuries though. Striker Giovane Elber is out with a broken leg, midfield player Hatem Ben Arfa has a collarbone fracture while goalkeeper Grégory Coupet and defenders Eric Abidal and Claudio Caçapa are all absent with knee problems. None of this seems to worry Le Guen, however.
“I have got confidence in my players coming in and our biggest strength is our collective spirit,” he said.
United are likely to restore Gabriel Heinze, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gary Neville to the side. Striker Louis Saha is the only absentee from the squad after being ruled out for four weeks with a knee injury.
But Ferguson has Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Alan Smith and David Bellion to choose from in attack as they bid to extend their winning streak at Old Trafford again French opposition to five.