Lingard, Smalling, Dalot and Matic warm up before a match at Old Trafford

The week ahead for Reds

Monday 17 December 2018 08:11

The action never stops at Manchester United and the final full week before Christmas is no different.

The first team, Under-18s and Under-23s are all in action and there are a couple of birthdays to celebrate, as well as plenty of anniversaries to mark. Here’s our guide to everything happening over the next seven days…

United fans, players and staff alike will be keeping a close eye on the UEFA Champions League last-16 draw, which is due to take place at 11:00 GMT in Nyon, Switzerland. We will discover our first opponents in the knockout stage of Europe's elite competition, which resumes in February. After the draw has taken place, the Premier League are also due to announce which matches in February have been chosen for live television coverage in the UK.

In the evening, our Under-18s play their final game of 2018 when facing Chelsea in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. Kick-off at Leigh Sports Village will be at 19:00 GMT and you’ll be able to watch the match live on MUTV.

The Reds will be back at the Aon Traning Complex to step up preparations for Saturday’s Premier League game against Cardiff City. Meanwhile, our young midfielder Callum Gribbin celebrates his 20th birthday.

The Reds' next Champions League opponents will be confirmed late on Monday morning.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates his birthday, the first since he became a United player after arriving from Arsenal last January, and it’s a notable one as the Chilean is turning 30. It’s also eight years to the day since Sir Alex Ferguson became the longest-serving manager in the Reds' history, overtaking Sir Matt Busby's record of 24 years, one month and 13 days in charge. Also on this day, George Best re-signed for the club in 1972, Steve Bruce made his debut for the Reds in a 2-1 win over Portsmouth in 1987, and Eric Cantona scored his first United goal in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea in 1992.

Our Under-23s will play their final match of 2018 when making the trip to Loughborough University Stadium for a Premier League International Cup clash with Derby County. Kick-off will be at 19:00 GMT. It is also exactly one year on since Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 29th and final goal for United, in last season’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at Bristol City.

There will be a pre-match press conference at the Aon Training Complex, at a time to be confirmed, ahead of the Reds’ trip to Neil Warnock's Cardiff City. This day also marks exactly a decade since United became the first English side to win the FIFA Club World Cup, as Wayne Rooney scored in a 1-0 victory over LDU Quito in the final in Yokohama, Japan, on 21 December 2008.

The first team will take to the field for the final time before Christmas and hope to give fans an early present with three points in South Wales. The Reds face Cardiff City for the first time since the 2013/14 season in the day’s 17:30 GMT kick-off. Saturday is also the anniversary of Tommy Docherty's appointment as United manager in 1972.

Patrice Evra was on the scoresheet on United's last visit to Cardiff, in a 2-2 draw in November 2013.

It’ll be 12 years to the day since Paul Scholes netted that stunning volley from outside the box in a 3-0 win at Aston Villa, while just one year ago, Marcus Rashford made his 100th appearance for United, in the 2-2 draw at Leicester City.

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