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Manchester United look to power on
An in-form United are ready for a Lyon side struggling with division.
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2008 18:38 GMT

Alex Ferguson hopes his side can continue their
free-scoring ways [GALLO/GETTY]
Manchester United is in stellar form as it tries to clinch a Champions League quarterfinal berth against a Lyon side struggling with internal bickering.

The French side let United salvage a last-minute 1-1 draw in the first leg, and its prematch preparations have been overshadowed by star striker Karim Benzema's anger with coach Alain Perrin over being playing out of position in the French league.

United meanwhile, is surging domestically after scoring 12 goals in its last three matches.

United eased to a 3-0 victory over Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday to go within a point of leader Arsenal, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney only coming on as substitutes for 15 minutes.

Manager Alex Ferguson was keen to rest his two biggest scoring threats, who have netted a combined 42 goals this season.

He will be considering whether to start Owen Hargreaves again, after he scored his first goal in an injury-blighted debut season.

"We are all part of the jigsaw puzzle, nobody is going to play in all the games,'' Hargreaves said.

"All our players have something different to bring to the table. So, depending on how we want to play, we can perform in different formations. ... The depth and balance in our squad could make the difference in the end.''

Carlos Tevez struck in the 90th minute in Lyon to give United a valuable away goal and an edge going into Old Trafford.

"If we go out of the Champions League on Tuesday it would be a massive blow for the club, it would be catastrophic,'' defender Patrice Evra said.

"I have a big respect for Lyon because they are a good team. As a Frenchman, I am fully aware of their qualities.''

Karim Benzema: Not happy with Alain
Perrin's tactics [GALLO/GETTY]
Internal conflicts

Lyon maintained its lead in the French league with a 1-0 victory over Lille on Saturday, but the internal conflicts could undermine the European bid.

Perrin's focus has been on quelling his feud with Benzema, who was angry at being restricted to the left wing again and substituted on Saturday.

Benzema, who scored in the first leg, has been hailed as the new Zinedine Zidane and is attracting interest across Europe with 26 goals this season.

But he has also been bickering with another of Lyon's valuable 20-year-old assets, winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

"These two players have already declared that they are not the best friends in the world,'' Perrin said.

"It's a story which concerns them personally. I will speak to them, but these are matters between men, they are not linked to a problem in the game. It's their private life, their personal life.''

Lyon's Brazil defender Cris returned to action at the Stade de France after tearing knee ligaments in August and is likely to keep his place if he is not tired.

As well as Benzema, Juninho and Govou were also substituted in the second half to rest them for Old Trafford.

Perrin hinted that Ben Arfa, a substitute in the first leg at Stade Gerland, would start on the left against United to inject speed into the team.

Juninho said Lyon will have to play a perfect game to advance.

"We are still in this tie,'' he said.

"Do not rule us out yet. You need technique and strong characters to win silverware and we have those.''

Milan receive boost

Meanwhile, the return of Kaka and two other key starters is boosting AC Milan's confidence ahead of their game against Arsenal.

Kaka missed the last two games with recurring knee pain, while midfielder Andrea Pirlo and defender Alessandro Nesta have also been out with injuries.

The European champion drew 0-0 with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the first leg of the second-round match two weeks ago, after Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor headed against the crossbar in injury time and Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac made several key saves.

"We will need personality, courage and desire,'' Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

"We have had difficulties with the injuries. Nevertheless, I don't think physical strength is the most important aspect to winning in Europe at the moment.''

Source:
Agencies
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