Juan Mata: Man United will need to be at highest level against PSV
Manchester United star Juan Mata isn't underestimating PSV Eindhoven
Juan Mata has warned Manchester United that they will need to be at their best against PSV Eindhoven in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
The Red Devils can book their place in the Champions League knockout phase with victory over the Eredivisie holders at Old Trafford in their penultimate group-stage game.
“Obviously it’s going to be tough, and we will need to be at our highest level to beat PSV and Leicester
Louis van Gaal’s side warmed up for the visit of PSV with a last-gasp 2-1 win against Watford at Vicarage Road in Saturday’s early kick-off in the Premier League.
The Spain international, who has scored four Premier League goals this term, urged the Red Devils to make a winning start to their busy festive period against the Dutch champions.
Mata wrote in his blog: “We could make an important step to finish first of our group in the Champions League, and we could climb to the top of the Premiership.
“This is how we face this new week. We’re feeling optimistic, as always, and our goal is to win both games and to have the best possible start to the busy period ahead.
“Obviously it’s going to be tough, and we will need to be at our highest level to beat PSV and Leicester.”
Mata has been a regular fixture in Van Gaal’s first team this season and will be expecting to feature when they take on PSV mid-week.
Man United v PSV Eindhoven: Match facts
• Group B leaders United will progress to the knockout stage with victory, though PSV will have other ideas as they seek the win that could take them top of the section instead.
• For United’s Memphis Depay, the match is a reunion with the club he left in the summer while it also gives visiting tactician Phillip Cocu a chance to pit his wits against Louis van Gaal, his former coach with Barcelona and the Netherlands.
• Depay’s 41st-minute opener on matchday one was swiftly cancelled out by Hector Moreno. Luciano Narsingh’s second-half goal sealed a 2-1 win for the Eredvisie outfit.
• PSV shrugged off an early Paul Scholes penalty to beat United 3-1 at home in the first group stage in 2000/01, Wilfred Bouma, Mark van Bommel and Mateja Kežman scoring.
• United turned the tables with a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford, where Scholes and Dwight Yorke struck late goals after Van Bommel had equalised a Teddy Sheringham strike. Ryan Giggs, now Van Gaal’s assistant manager, played in both matches for United, who ended up qualifying in second place, a point above PSV.
• United also got the better of PSV in the 1984/85 Uefa Cup second round, Gordon Strachan’s extra-time goal at Old Trafford securing a 1-0 aggregate win.
The 27-year-old playmaker has netted five times in 16 games in the Champions League and the Premier League this season.