No pitch concerns for De Gea

Thursday 15 September 2022 10:00

Upon landing in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on Wednesday night, David De Gea and his Manchester United team-mates were greeted by a sizeable crowd of well-wishers outside the airport.

The long-serving keeper - on course, if all goes well, to enter the top 10 of the club's all-time appearance list before the season breaks for the World Cup finals - and manager Erik ten Hag took a separate bus to the Zimbru Stadium in order to fulfil media duties while the rest of the squad embarked for their hotel.

Judging by our short time in Moldova so far, the locals' enthusiasm for welcoming such an iconic club, and genuine respect for the Reds, has been obvious.

Sheriff Tiraspol have already proved their mettle in Europe and their attitude during the 90 minutes will certainly be a lot less reverential, with our no.1 rightly expecting a tough test against robust opponents.

De Gea enthused by Moldovan challenge Video

De Gea enthused by Moldovan challenge

David De Gea is desperate to get back on the winning trail, starting against Sheriff...

Once David had answered journalists' questions alongside the boss, he spent some time with club media inside the stadium. By then, he had already taken up the opportunity to inspect the surface at the home ground of the national team, where he has yet to play.

There were clearly no issues with the pitch or the 10,400-capacity arena, which will be full and considerably noisier come 17:45 BST (19:45 local time) later today.

Hence, De Gea sees no reason why United cannot show the sort of form that yielded four successive Premier League victories, before the 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad last time out in the Europa League.

"To be honest, as we arrived, I felt already the people and how they love football," he told us. "They love Manchester [United] so it's great. 

"I can't wait to play here and enjoy the fans, enjoy the atmosphere and, of course, try to win the game.

"It's my first time in Moldova so it's going to be a tough game for us. They play at home and are a very direct team, a very physically strong team, so it's going to be 100 per cent a difficult game. If we play our game, if we play good and play in our way, then we will have a big chance to win the game, for sure.

"To be honest, we saw some videos and I was thinking maybe the pitch was going to be really bad but I've been there and I think it's a great pitch.

"It's perfect to play on and a nice stadium, perfect to play in. As I said before, I cannot wait to play here tomorrow.

"Of course, after a defeat, now we have the second game of the group and we have to try to win and show again our qualities, the good things we've been doing in the Premier League.

"You can say we go by game-by-game and try to prepare for every game as a final. This is one more but we train well and it's massively important for us to be 100 per cent well and recover very well. After this game [and the break], there is going to be a crazy period of games but, as soon as we stat winning, winning, winning, it will be a great thing for us."