ISTANBUL, Turkey — Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick insists there will be no complacency when his injury-ravaged team take on bottom side Bursaspor in Group C of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Making its debut in Europe's elite competition, the Turkish club is without a point from three group matches and has yet to score a goal.
United, which will be missing Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney among a host of other players, will virtually qualify for the knockout stage by winning for the third match in a row in the competition but Carrick is not underestimating Bursaspor.
"We've got to go to Turkey — it's a long journey, it's a different atmosphere and we'll be playing against players we don't see week in, week out. That brings its own challenges," the England international said.
"We're well prepared but some of the games are new to us and it's an experience. It's not going to be easy, but we're in a great position overall in the group and hopefully we can build on that."
United manager Alex Ferguson said at the weekend that Rooney would be out for a further five weeks with the ankle injury he sustained in training before the 1-0 win over Bursaspor in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago.
Ferdinand was not part of the 20-man United squad that flew to Turkey on Monday but no reason was initially given for his absence.
The England captain joins Jonny Evans, Federico Macheda, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and Michael Owen on the sidelines, with Chris Smalling now likely to partner Nemanja Vidic at center back.
Bursaspor coach Ertugrul Saglam said his team has struggled to manage the big step up from domestic football to the Champions League.
"There is a huge difference in quality between the rest of the group and our squad," Saglam said.
"In Turkey, we became successful in a very short period of time and all of a sudden we found ourselves competing in the Champions League. It is difficult to challenge the opponents we have."
Bursaspor can at least take some comfort from its domestic form. The team nicknamed 'The Crocodiles,' which last season became the first club outside Turkey's 'big four' to win the domestic title, is undefeated this campaign and tops the Turkish league with 24 points from 10 games.
Saglam will have a full squad at his disposal against United.
Ferguson believes moving onto 10 points with a victory will guarantee United qualification even though they could still be caught by Valencia and Rangers, who meet in the other group match Tuesday.
Portugal winger Nani has been United's most creative outlet this season, having found a cutting edge to his play since taking on a more prominent role in the team following the sale of compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo last year.
He scored the winner against Bursaspor two weeks ago and also netted a controversial goal in the 2-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday. It was Nani's fourth goal in United's last eight matches.
Rangers and Valencia will be hoping for a United slip-up when they meet at the Mestalla for the second leg of their double-header. They drew 1-1 at Ibrox, with Rangers' United States midfielder Maurice Edu scoring at both ends.
The Scottish champions are two points behind United and a point ahead of Valencia, whose goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez could miss out with a leg injury.
Unai Emery's team hasn't won any of its last three matches in the Spanish league.
"We are not going through our best spell but I believe this will change soon," said Valencia forward Juanma Mata.
Rangers manager Walter Smith said all the pressure was on Valencia.
"I think they will be looking at this game as a must-win, having lost at home [to United] and also to justify their tag as one of the favorites to qualify," Smith said.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP