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Athletic bid to end United's quest

Published: Friday 9 March 2012, 9.00CET
Manchester United FC and Sir Alex Ferguson are in search of a crucial missing piece of silverware as they visit Athletic Club, needing to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit.
Athletic bid to end United's quest
Athletic celebrate scoring at Old Trafford ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Friday 9 March 2012, 9.00CET

Athletic bid to end United's quest

Manchester United FC and Sir Alex Ferguson are in search of a crucial missing piece of silverware as they visit Athletic Club, needing to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit.

Athletic Club will look for a repeat of their last home result against Manchester United FC, over 50 years ago, as the sides bid for a place in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

• Athletic won 3-2 in the first leg, with United losing successive European home games for the first time since 1996. Wayne Rooney (22) put United in front, but Fernando Llorente (44), Óscar de Marcos (71) and Iker Muniain (90) struck back, with Old Trafford relieved when Rooney converted a penalty two minutes into added time.

Previous meetings
• The clubs' only previous meetings came over 50 years ago, in what was both sides' third competitive two-legged tie in UEFA competition. In the quarter-finals of the second European Champion Clubs' Cup, Ferdinand Daučík's Athletic beat Sir Matt Busby's United 5-3 in Bilbao, but lost the return fixture 3-0 at Maine Road, usually the home of Manchester City FC, where United were playing due to second world war bomb damage to Old Trafford.

• The teams for the first leg in Bilbao on 16 January 1957 were:
Athletic: Cedrun, Orue, Garay, Trapero, Etura, Ugartemendia, Arteche, Marcaida, Merodio, Uribe, Gainza.
United: Wood, Foulkes, Byrne, Colman, Jones, Edwards, Berry, Whelan, Taylor, Viollet, Pegg.

Match background
• United's record in 42 games against Spanish opponents reads W11 D17 L14 (W8 D9 L3 at Old Trafford – W2 D8 L9 in Spain). That total includes a win and two defeats against FC Barcelona in major European finals held at neutral venues.

• Athletic's 15 games against English sides ended W4 D4 L7 (W3 D3 L1 at home – W1 D1 L6 in England).

• United's only previous appearance in the last 16 in this competition came in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup, a tournament in which they lost out to Videoton FC of Hungary on penalties in the quarter-final.

• Should United win the UEFA Europa League they will be only the fourth side to have taken all three of UEFA's major club trophies, joining Juventus, AFC Ajax and FC Bayern München.

• The Bilbao side have reached the round of 16 for the first time since the advent of the UEFA Cup group stage, having lost out in the round of 32 to FK Austria Wien in 2004/05 and RSC Anderlecht at the same stage in 2009/10.

• They have not reached the quarter-finals since the 1976/77 season, when they went on to lose to Juventus on away goals in the two-legged final.

• Athletic are unbeaten in six European home fixtures − three wins and three draws − since a 3-0 loss to SV Werder Bremen in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage.

• United have lost only one of their four away games in Europe this season, winning two and drawing one.

• United's 2-0 win at Ajax in the round of 32 first leg was only their second win on the road in this competition in 11 attempts, with the other nine producing five draws and four defeats.

Team facts
• United's 2-1 home loss against AFC Ajax in the round of 32 decider was their first home defeat in the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League; they had drawn their two previous home games in the two tournaments under Sir Alex Ferguson.

• Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only current United players to have represented the club on their last UEFA Cup, featuring in 0-0 and 2-2 draws against SC Rotor Volgograd in 1995/96.

• Athletic defender Mikel San José spent three years on the books of United's northwest rivals Liverpool FC from 2007-10 but never made a senior appearance for the club.

• United's Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea played in three games against Athletic for Club Atlético de Madrid; two wins and – most recently – a 2-0 home defeat.

• Athletic's coach is former Argentina defender Marcelo Bielsa, who briefly led Espanyol in Spain in 1998 before taking charge of Argentina (1998–2004) and Chile (2007–11). This is his first season as a player or coach in UEFA club competition.

• He has come up against three current United players before, though. Bielsa was Argentina coach when they lost 1-0 to an England team containing Scholes, Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

• Sir Alex has now been United manager for 25 years, leading the club to their record 19th English title last season. Now 70, he won three Scottish titles and the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen FC before coming to Old Trafford, where his haul includes 12 league crowns, a second UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Champions League triumphs.

• If United win the UEFA Europa League, he will be the third coach to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions, after Giovanni Trapattoni and Udo Lattek.

Competition statistics
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:
http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=1750416.html

Last updated: 12/03/12 15.42CET

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