Manchester United FC defender Patrice Evra has denied that last season's shock loss to LOSC Lille Métropole will weigh on his team-mates' minds when they are reunited with Claude Puel's side on Tuesday.
Respect for Lille
The English heavyweights suffered a 1-0 reverse at the Stade de France on their way to a rare group-stage elimination, but Evra is one of seven players set to start the first leg in Lens who did not feature that day. Signed from AS Monaco FC in January 2006, he insisted: "The lads haven't been discussing that match at all. We all have respect for Lille and their team, and we know we have two difficult games ahead. Having said that, I think United were going through a more difficult time last season."
Six points clear of Chelsea FC in the Premiership and through to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase for the tenth time in eleven campaigns, the Red Devils definitely seem to be enjoying life again. They look genuine contenders to reach the Athens final, although Evra refused to be drawn on comparisons with the Monaco side that finished runners-up in 2004, saying: "All teams are different and at Monaco we were a surprise package. With United, there is the expectation to do well every year, but we certainly have the players to go all the way. Hopefully, we can show that tomorrow [Tuesday]."
Their chances must surely be improved by the absence of suspended Lille forward Kader Keita, and French international Evra expressed relief that the explosive Ivorian will be missing. The 25-year-old said: "Keita's a powerful and very quick player, so it's good news for us he's not playing. It's good for me especially, because he plays on the right and that's my area. He'll be back for the return leg, though, and Lille's major strength is that they work hard as a team. They don't rely on one man." Likewise, United have men capable of making the difference in almost every position, and the hosts would be well advised to keep track of Evra's trademark surges down the left.
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