PARIS. — Five-time European soccer champions Liverpool will aim to finish off eternal rivals Manchester United when England’s two most successful sides clash in the Europa League last 16, second leg at Old Trafford tonight.
The match kicks-off at 10.05pm.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool are well placed to reach the quarter-finals of a competition that realistically represents the best chance for either club to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino scored as Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated the first European meeting between the two English Premier League giants and Sturridge says Liverpool’s mindset won’t change despite their healthy advantage.
“We’ll approach the second leg exactly the same as we did the first leg. That’s the only way we know,” Sturridge told the Liverpool Echo.
“The Liverpool way is to win games so we will go into the second leg and be positive.
“The confidence is there within the camp and we are just looking forward to every game. We are mentally prepared for every job we have ahead of us.”
United face a tough task to turn things around as Liverpool have kept four straight clean sheets in Europe and are unbeaten in nine games in this season’s competition.
However, Juan Mata insists there is still hope for United as they bid to keep alive their quest to become just the fifth club to land all three major European trophies.
“We need to have a good start on Thursday, with intensity. It’s like a final for us.
“We need a comeback and I’m sure that the atmosphere in Old Trafford will take us closer to that goal. I’m sure it’s possible,” said the Spaniard, who missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw against West Ham in the FA Cup through suspension.
Borussia Dortmund will seek to protect a 3-0 lead as they head to Tottenham Hotspur on the back of their biggest win against an English side.
Spurs paid the price for resting Harry Kane and leaving Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela on the bench as they were outclassed by Thomas Tuchel’s German title challengers.
However, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are undefeated in nine European home games, winning their last two at White Hart Lane by three-goal margins, although the Bundesliga giants represent a step up in class from previous opponents.
Gary Neville’s Valencia must overcome a 1-0 deficit at home to fellow Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao.
The former Manchester United and England defender was furious after his side crashed to a 1-0 defeat against local rivals and La Liga’s bottom side Levante over the weekend.
“We have to pick ourselves up immediately. Our attitude has to change, simple as that. We’re not playing like that on Thursday night,” Neville told reporters.
“The very least you will get on Thursday will be a Valencia team running around like crazy and fighting for every single ball.”
Holders Sevilla return to Spain following a goalless draw against Swiss champions Basel, whose St-Jakob Park will stage this year’s final, as they continue their quest for a fifth title in the past decade.
Villarreal go to Bayer Leverkusen with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg, while 2009 champions Shakhtar Donetsk head to Anderlecht following a 3-1 victory in Ukraine.
Fenerbahce take a narrow 1-0 lead to Portuguese side Braga, while Lazio, who were charged by UEFA for racist chanting after last week’s 1-1 draw in the Czech Republic, return home for their second leg against Sparta Prague.
UEFA Europa League Fixtures
Bayer Levkn v Villarreal (agg 0-2; 8pm); Lazio v Sparta Prague (agg 1-1; 8pm); Valencia v Athletico Bilbao (agg 0-1; 8pm); Manchester United v Liverpool (agg 0-2; 10:05pm); Anderlecht v Shakt Donsk (agg 1-3; 10:05pm); Sevilla v Basel (agg 0-0; 10:05pm); Sporting Braga v Fenerbahçe (agg 0-1; 10:05pm); Tottenham V Borussia Dortmund (agg 0-3; 10:05pm). — AFP.