Marseille and United look for fresh inspiration

Reuters

Thu, 24 Feb 08:42:00 2011

Marseille and Manchester United will expect to serve up a better show at Old Trafford on March 15 than Wednesday's dull 0-0 draw in the Champions League first leg, with several top players returning from injury.

France forward Mathieu Valbuena, described by United boss Alex Ferguson as Marseille's best player, came on for the last 11 minutes after making a rapid recovery from a knee injury and hopes to be able to make a real difference in the second leg.

"They said six weeks and I did it in four. I feel good and that's the most important thing," Valbuena told reporters. "I'm going to be better and better physically."

The French champions could also have powerful forward Andre-Pierre Gignac back from a groin problem in three weeks while United should soon see the return of Ryan Giggs, whose attacking flair was missed on Wednesday.

Centre back Rio Ferdinand is close to full fitness too but young stand-in Chris Smalling put in another commanding performance in the south of France.

"To come and play in an atmosphere at a stadium like the Stade Veledrome was intimidating. I'd heard it was a great atmosphere and it's a great occasion for me to come and play in," he told MUTV.

"Our passing was a bit off throughout the team. Hopefully we can finish the job, we've been quite immense at Old Trafford this season."

((mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 7708909684; Reuters Messaging: mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net. For Reuters sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport/)

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