Rio Ferdinand has the chance to revisit an old haunt following today’s Champions League knockout stage draw.
Ferdinand was not at Manchester United when the Red Devils last faced Marseille in 2000, but two years earlier he was at the Stade Velodrome as a non-playing member of the England side which beat Tunisia in a World Cup group stage encounter.
With its 60,000 capacity and partisan southern French crowd, Ferdinand knows United are in for a hot night when they head out for the first leg on February 23.
“It will be a hard place to go,” Ferdinand said. “You are talking about passionate fans in a big stadium. I went there with England in the 1998 World Cup, so I know it will be tough.”
Although United have tended to get the better of recent encounters with French teams, a defeat to Lille in Paris was a major factor in their ultimate demise in the group stage of the 2005-06 competition, so 32-year-old Ferdinand is taking nothing for granted against a side which includes United old boy Gabriel Heinze.
“We have come across French teams a fair bit,” he added. “They have always been tough games and never with loads of goals. I don’t expect this will be much different.
“But this is the knockout stage and where you earn your pennies. It is not a league situation. There is no chance to make up ground. We have to be right on the day.”