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After a free weekend, Manchester United FC are looking forward to the visit of Valencia CF for a contest which will decide who finishes top of UEFA Champions League Group C. United lead the Spanish club by three points and will win the section by not losing – something Sir Alex Ferguson is keen they achieve in order to "avoid the big hitters" in the round of 16. Valencia, meanwhile, must win to leapfrog United and their coach, Unai Emery, believes doing so would "send out a warning" to the rest of Europe.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager
In one way it's a plus [that the game against Blackpool FC was postponed] in that we don't have any more injuries. But the players would rather have played because it's been ten days since we had a game. The sensible approach to try and avoid big hitters like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid is by finishing top, because they're all leading their groups at the moment. I will play my strongest side tomorrow. We'll then have six days to prepare for Arsenal.
Historically against Valencia we've always had very tough, tight games and I think that will be the case. Let's see how they set themselves out, because at Real Madrid on Saturday they were very compact, didn't show much in the way of positive intentions but were very difficult to beat. In their previous away game against Villarreal they went with five attackers and very nearly won.
Unai Emery, Valencia coach
We've got two objectives: the first was to qualify, the second was to finish top of the group. We've achieved the first and now we're going for the second. We want to taste victory at a place like this, which would set our stall out and send out a warning sign to the other clubs. There are lots of big clubs left in the competition and a good result here would give us confidence for the challenges ahead.
Though currently Madrid and Barça are arguably the two best sides in the world, Manchester [United] are not far behind. The fact we're already qualified means we can stay composed and go about trying to get a victory in a calm, controlled manner. We've got to show character, play with a certain freedom and express ourselves.
• Manchester United
Michael Owen will not feature despite returning to training following a hamstring injury. Wes Brown and Jonny Evans both missed Monday's session, while Paul Scholes and Patrice Evra (both groin) had only a light workout. Owen Hargreaves (hamstring) and Antonio Valencia (ankle) are long-term absentees.
Miguel came on a substitute on Saturday for his first appearance since picking up a thigh injury on 20 November. No1 César Sánchez (hamstring) has made just two appearances since Matchday 3 while second-choice Miguel Ángel Moyà is out with a torn thigh . Valencia's absentees also include David Navarro (thigh), Manuel Fernandes (bruised hip), Mehmet Topal (bruised shin) and Jérémy Mathieu (torn calf).
• United's game at Blackpool FC, which was due to take place on Saturday evening, was postponed on Friday because of a frozen pitch.
04/12/10 Real Madrid CF 2-0 Valencia
(Ronaldo 73 87)
David Albelda was dismissed after 65 minutes as Valencia's five-game unbeaten run in all competitions – including four wins – ended in Madrid.
Did you know?
The Spanish club are unbeaten on their last five trips to England although they have still won only once on English soil – 1-0 at Liverpool FC in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage. Their overall record is W1 D8 L4.
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