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UEFA: Marseille vs. Manchester United

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Marseille are set to host Manchester United, in the first leg of a last 16 encounter, in the UEFA Champions League, on Wednesday, February 23, 2011. The match between Marseille and Manchester United is scheduled to kick off at 19:45 GMT.
1993 Champion’s League winners, Olympique de Marseille go up against the former Barclays Premiere League Champions, Manchester United. Marseille look to be in great shape, after having won the 2010 Coupe de France cup. One of the stronger teams in the French league, Marseille has a very dogged squad of players.
Olympique de Marseille faces the daunting prospect of playing Manchester United in their first knockout Champions League tie since the 1992-93 final. On the way to lifting the crown that season, they eliminated British opponents in the form of Rangers, but les Phoceens now lag well behind Europe’s top clubs in terms of raw quality. Against Premier League opposition, Marseille has held their own in recent times. In the Champions League they’ve been to Anfield and beaten Liverpool, plus they bested a strong Chelsea side 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome only recently. Didier Deschamps’ men are going through a rough patch in the league and will hope to be in better form by the time the match rolls around. If they are to progress, a strong result at the Velodrome is essential in the first leg. Marseille will hope to match the Red Devils in terms of sheer strength, but must take the chances that are offered to them if they are to stand a chance of moving forward.
Manchester United on the other hand would be the crowd’s favorite with having gone to the top the table of the Barclays Premiere League. Wayne Rooney coming back into action after a minor injury hasn’t come up to the level he would have liked to have, but has boosted the team’s performance quite a bit.
Sir Alex will be thankful he topped the group in order to get a draw as good as this one. Marseille are no pushovers, physically they are perhaps even better, but United have all the ingredients within their squad to overpower the French champions. Marseille's strong forwards present a unique challenge, but there aren't many goals between them. Ferguson's challenge will be to defend well from midfield, the likes of Park and Fletcher will be key in restricting the flying full-backs and Lucho Gonzalez and from there, gaining control of the game should not be so hard. Breaking down such a physical and combative side could be difficult, but they will be inspired by their traditionally triumphant home support and could end up deciding the bout.
Manchester United, right now, look to be riding on confidence, but Marseilles, with their inspiring attitude keeps them at bay from losing. United look to be winners of this match-up, but it will be close.