Athletic look to progress in Europe

March 14th, 2012 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Alex Ferguson Madrid, March 14 (IANS) Athletic Club Bilbao prepare for one of the most important nights of football when they entertain Manchester United in the last 16 of the Europa League Thursday night.

Athletic go into the game on the back of a superb 3-2 win in Old Trafford against the leaders of the Barclays Premier League while Manchester United travel to Bilbao knowing they need to score at least two goals if they are to make it through to the last eight.

Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson has made no secret of the fact that the Premier League is his side’s main target for the year/

It will be interesting to see if star players such as Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young make the starting line-up.

But such is the depth of talent on the United bench that others such as Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck can step into the side with few problems.

Athletic have doubts over key striker Fernando Llorente, who has a slight hip problem. Oscar de Marcos and Borja Ekiza have been suffering from flu, although they should have recovered in time for kick off.

Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa is also meditating whether to play Javi Martinez in midfield to ensure his side are tougher in defence and continue with Mikel San Jose and Fernando Amorebieta.

The tickets for the match were sold out by Monday.

In other matches, Atletico Madrid are confident they can defend their 3-1 first leg advantage when they travel to play Turkish side Besiktas, while Valencia defend a 4-2 first leg lead away to PSV Eindhoven.

If all sides perform as expected there could be three Spanish sides in the last eight of the competition, Xinhua reports.

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