Fresh from Friday's 2-0 defeat of Ligue 1 title rivals Stade Rennais FC, Olympique de Marseille captain Steve Mandanda is confident the French champions can upset Manchester United FC and reach the last eight for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1992/93.
A first-team fixture at Marseille since stepping in for the injured Cédric Carrasso in 2007/08, the DR Congo-born France goalkeeper has played in all seven of OM's UEFA Champions League encounters this season. "To tell you the truth, we're not feeling under any extra pressure ahead of this game, even though it's a situation we've not been in before," said Mandanda, whose clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with United last month was his fifth in succession in Europe.
"However, we might feel different tomorrow. We're ready, we're prepared and there's a very good atmosphere in the squad after a great win [at Rennes]," continued the 25-year-old, whose side are fourth in Ligue 1, four points behind leaders LOSC Lille Métropole. "We're not too tense, we're nice and relaxed. We're very motivated, very focused and the lads are up for it. We know we're playing against a great side but we also know we've everything left to play for."
The OM skipper was also quick to point out he and his team-mates will not be in awe of the 2008 winners come kick-off on Tuesday. "Do we respect United?
When you see what this club has achieved, it's inspirational and fills you with respect – respect but certainly not fear," he explained. "We really believe we can knock out United and we've got the desire to do it, but we'll have to believe in ourselves to achieve it."
Finally, has he made any special preparations for facing the likes of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov? "I don't know how busy I'll be, we'll have to wait and see, but I'm preparing the same way I normally do and trying to do so in a calm fashion," said Marseille's No30, who last conceded in this competition on 28 September and a 2-0 loss to Chelsea FC. "What I do know, though, is that United are one of the best teams in Europe, and they have players up front capable of turning any game."
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