Daley Blind has insisted that Manchester United will need to adapt well to their surroundings for the clash with FC Rostov on Thursday night.
Jose Mourinho‘s men claimed an emphatic 4-0 aggregate win over Saint Etienne in the last 32 to secure a tie with the Russian side.
Man United visited the Olimp-2 stadium on Wednesday and found the pitch to be in woeful condition ahead of Thursday’s clash, with various sections not even covered by any grass.
And Blind, speaking at a press conference ahead of the encounter with the Russian side, noted that Mourinho’s men will need to quickly adjust to their environment.
“To be honest, the pitch is not the best,” he noted. “Maybe the quality of the game will be different, but in the end it’s not an excuse for us. We have to concentrate, play the game and try to win – that’s what we’re here for.”
“I think the most important thing is to win, we want to get a good result but we know it’s over two games, so we have to be smart and adapt if needed. We know in our minds the second leg is at home at Old Trafford – that’s how we look at it.”
United are no strangers to dangerous, close-to-unplayable pitches following their visit to Zorya Luhansk in December, but the terrain for their clash with Ivan Daniliants’ men presents a totally new dynamic: the pitch in Ukraine was icy, hard and yet somehow slippery, but the ball could still travel along the surface in relatively normal fashion.
Rostov, on the other, hand looks like something of a minefield – the kind of pitch conducive to an endless stream of bobbles, with the ball unevenly bouncing like one of those balls you got as a kid that could literally fly anywhere once you threw them to the ground.
Mourinho’s men will need to be wary of making too many long passes across the ground on Thursday night; they will look to make the pitch big, with both full-backs pushing up high and wide to prevent the home side from isolating the likes of Chris Smalling at the back. A more direct route could be United’s best option, and they’ll be desperate to avoid any injuries on what promises to be a truly grim surface to play on.