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Louis Saha believes Manchester United have all the tools to go the distance in the Champions League this season – against all odds. The Red Devils now have a two-legged last-16 showdown with Atletico Madrid to look forward to in the new year following Monday’s controversial draw that initially saw them paired with Paris Saint-Germain.
The heavyweight contest would have seen Cristiano Ronaldo renew old rivalries with Lionel Messi and Mauricio Pochettino square off against the team and players he could potentially manage next season.
Not only that but there was a familiar theme to the tie, which of course landed former caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the permanent job after a stunning comeback at the Parc des Princes two years ago.
Now, newly-appointed interim boss Ralf Rangnick has the chance to stake his claim to become the new manager despite already signing a two-year contract for a consultancy role upstairs at Old Trafford.
The German has made an unbeaten start to life in the hot-seat, beating Crystal Palace and Norwich 1-0 either side of a 1-1 draw with Young Boys.
And former striker Saha just has the feeling United have the quality to pull off the unthinkable in Europe this season, particularly if they strengthen in January.
He told Bookmakers.co.uk: “To be fair, I was excited by the prospect of United v PSG after the first draw.
“I was about to go and sort my tickets for that but things changed and it was a shame to see those mistakes – but those guys will meet again, I’m pretty sure of that. Maybe in the next round.
“It’s a decent draw for United in the end, probably better than the one we had first time around. But in the Champions League knockout stages you won’t face any easy teams.
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“You have to be very strong over both legs, that’s the only formula to win Champions League ties. You also have to be humble and accept that you won’t always have the ball against other top sides.
“You might have to win a scrappy game here or there too, and that’s going to be the challenge here.
“Man United have the tools, the players and the talent to beat Atletico and because it’s two or three months away they have some time to build momentum. Who knows what the team will be by then? There could even be some additions in January.”
With United’s Premier League titles hopes are already gone, the Red Devils now have an opportunity to prioritise their progression in the Champions League.
And there is no better player to have in your corner than Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to nights under the Champions League lights.
The Portuguese superstar now has 140 goals to his name in the competition from 181 appearances.
United have not won the competition since back in 2008 when they beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.
Ronaldo was on target for the Red Devils that day but missed his penalty before Edwin van der San spared his blushes in Russia.
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