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Man Of The Match vs Aalborg

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Boss: We'll show respect

Sir Alex Ferguson insists he has learned the Champions League lessons of Copenhagen as United prepare to take on another unfancied Danish team in the shape of Aalborg BK.

Two years ago an under-strength Reds squad travelled to FC Copenhagen in control of Group F and needing only a point to qualify for the knockout stages.

But United put in a lacklustre performance to lose 1-0 and, after a further defeat to Celtic, were forced to beat Benfica in the final game to progress.

It's a situation Ferguson is determined to avoid this time around, and that means fielding his strongest team in the Energi Nord Arena on Tuesday.

"The most important thing is that Aalborg get our respect," the Reds boss told the pre-match press conference on Monday.

"They are a small club, with only 10,000 fans, but we must make sure we don’t fall into any traps and play to our best level.

"Two years ago we made a mistake in picking our team against Copenhagen because we were in a comfortable position in the group, and we ended up scrapping away for qualification, so we’ll definitely field our strongest team this time."

Aalborg claimed a creditable goalless draw away at Celtic in their opening Champions League game, and Ferguson admits he was impressed by the
Danes' work ethic and compact gameplan which frustrated their Scottish opponents.

But the United manager warned that after an identical result against Villarreal at Old Trafford on Matchday 1, his side are much better prepared to claim a first win of their Champions League defence on Tuesday.

"Aalborg are a small club who have reached the Champions League, which is an enormous achievement in itself," Ferguson continued.

"Then the result they got in the first game was fantastic, given Celtic’s outstanding home record in the Champions League.

"One defeat for Celtic in all those years is a measure of how important that result was for Aalborg, so it makes it interesting for us.

"But Villarreal got us at a good time, when we were still advancing towards our best form, and I think we’re in much better shape now.

"The players realise how important qualifying for the next stage is. The competition kicks off properly at the end of February, and if we get to that stage, then we’ve as good a chance as anyone.

"We have a difficult game on Tuesday because they will be well motivated and will have fantastic support, so we have to handle these things and hopefully get the right result."{F9E570E6-407E-44BC-800F-4A3110258114}&newsid=6619437&page=1
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