Mar 10, 2016

    Two old foes clash in first Euro face-off


    ETERNAL rivals Manchester United travel to Liverpool in the Europa League last 16, first leg tonight in a battle of English football's two most successful sides.

    United have won the English title a record 20 times, twice more than Liverpool.

    But the Reds have the edge abroad, having been crowned European champions on five occasions to United's three.

    The Anfield encounter will mark the first time the teams have faced off in European competition, with the two Premier League giants combining to lift 17 continental trophies.

    "This is why I signed for such a big club, to look forward to nights like this," Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne told the club's website.

    "Everyone's excited. Everyone loves to play European football so it's going to be exciting up against United.

    "I think we owe them from the Premier League games, which we probably should have got more out of.

    "We need to take it to them, especially in the first leg when we're at home."

    Winning the Europa League appears the best chance for either side to compete in next season's Champions League, with both United and Liverpool languishing outside the top four in England.

    The Red Devils won both Premier League meetings this season, following up a 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September with a 1-0 victory on Merseyside in the reverse fixture.

    However, United's 1-0 defeat at West Brom on Sunday snapped a four-game winning run in all competitions for Louis van Gaal's side.

    Michael Carrick said they cannot afford to let that derail them ahead of tonight's tie.

    "It is a setback but there are some massive games around the corner. Things were looking good (last) week; everyone was so positive.

    "This is a blow for us but we need to get back," he added.

    In contrast, Juergen Klopp's Liverpool have bounced back from their League Cup final defeat to Manchester City on penalties.

    They thrashed the same opponents 3-0 three days later in the league before rallying to claim a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday despite playing the last half-hour a man down.

    Liverpool won the last of their three titles in this competition in its previous guise as the Uefa Cup in 2001.

    United have never been beyond the quarter-finals of this tournament.