Juan Mata in action against Valencia

Mata bullish ahead of European draw

Thursday 13 December 2018 07:00

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata believes the Reds can beat whichever side we draw in the last 16 of the Champions League.

United’s 2-1 defeat against Valencia in the final game of Group H confirmed our spot as runners-up in the table, behind Juventus, and means we will face a group winner in next stage of the tournament.

In the draw, which takes place on Monday at 11:00 GMT, the Reds will be paired with one of Europe’s top clubs - Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Porto, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Mata: 'We reacted too late' Video

Mata: 'We reacted too late'

Juan Mata reflects on an emotional and frustrating evening against former club Valencia...

Yet Mata, speaking to BT Sport after the game in his homeland, insisted the Reds fear none of the six sides we can be pitted against.

“We have to wait and see who we play against,” the Spaniard said. “We have to believe that we can beat whoever it is. It is going to be a difficult team because obviously the teams that qualified are very good. 

“But we are Manchester United,” he added. “And it doesn’t matter if we play good or bad, we have always to keep believing and respect this club and the history and the belief that everyone who belongs to United has.”
It was a disappointing evening at the Mestalla on Wednesday, as United failed to take advantage of Juventus’ slip-up against Young Boys.

Despite a late rally from United, and a fine header by Marcus Rashford, Jose Mourinho’s men could not overcome Carlos Soler’s first-half strike and Phil Jones’ own-goal just after the interval.

“The game-plan was try to win,” said Mata. “We try to keep the ball. We did it sometimes, maybe not enough, and we conceded some chances.
Mata faced his former side on Wednesday night.
“It was difficult, it was a very passionate crowd so I think we reacted probably too late. We had some chances at the end and we could have at least scored again.

“Overall, we are disappointed because we know that Juventus lost and, if we would have won, we would have finished first in the group. We are qualified and now we have to think about Liverpool [in the Premier League on Sunday].”

It was a special evening for Mata who came up against his former side. The 30-year-old spent four years at the Mestalla and still enjoys a special relationship with the club.

“From a personal point of view, it was very good for me to come here and feel the love of the club and the supporters - I am very grateful for that.”

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