24/02/2014 10:23, Report by Ben Hibbs

Cup-tied Mata stays home

Each week, Juan Mata keeps Manchester United fans around the world up to date with his own personal blog. In this extract, he discusses his cup-tied absence from the Reds' Champions League trip to Greece but says he's confident his team-mates will return with a positive result...

Today my team-mates are packing for the trip to Athens, but I can’t go with them so I’ll stay in Manchester and support them from home. As you know, since I played the group stage with Chelsea I can’t participate in the same competition with my new team. It’s a shame because a Champions League match is always special and I keep good memories of this tournament that I was able to win just a couple of seasons ago.

I've noticed that my team-mates are very excited about going through little by little. I hope we can do it. I’ll be supporting United from here as any other fan.

At Karaiskakis, the team will face a tough opponent: Olympiacos are leaders and reigning champions in Greece. Mitroglou – their top goalscorer – and Weiss left the club in January, but they have signed two good players, Valdez and Hernán Pérez. Olympiacos have a Spanish flavour with several players that have been in La Liga: Roberto, Saviola, Chori, David Fuster and Joel Campbell. The same can be said about the staff: the manager is Míchel, whom I met in Real Madrid Castilla.

I’ll bite my nails nervously watching the game on telly. I will feel the same as you. But we feel encouraged ahead of this game thanks to some good training days and a very important win at Crystal Palace. These three points gave us a lot of confidence. I think the team was solid and it was a clear victory.

The game was special for Rooney after his recent renewal, and he was very happy. He deserves it; he is a model player in this club and it’s a privilege to have him with us now and in the coming years.

Me, personally, after five games with the team I feel there is more and more understanding with my team-mates on the pitch. The truth is, with a squad of such quality everything is easier.

More: Read Juan Mata's blog in full


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