Eric Bailly savouring his Champions League debut against CSKA Moscow

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is looking forward to making his UEFA Champions League debut against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday evening. The Ivorian defender did not play in the competition for former club Villarreal during his time in Spain and was unable to make his debut in the 3-0 victory over FC Basel a fortnight ago as he was suspended for being sent off in the UEFA Europa League last season, missing the final of the competition, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Basel match.

Bailly was named in the starting XI to face the Russian side with Jose Mourinho opting for three at the back formation with Victor Lindelof, and Chris Smalling either side of the Ivorian. Ashley Young and Daley Blind will play as the wing-backs with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera in midfield. Bailly has been a stalwart player this season for United, especially in the Premier League with the club destroying West Ham United, Swansea City and Everton with 4-0 scorelines, also beating Leicester City 2-0, Southampton 1-0 and drawing 2-2 with Stoke City. The central defender, speaking in a recent interview with MUTV, which was reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“With regards to the Champions League, I’m available. My suspension has finished now and I am very happy. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to so much. I am content and I hope I will be in the team.”

United had to win the Europa League last season, beating Ajax in the final in Sweden, to qualify for the Champions League this season, finishing sixth in the Premier League. The Ivorian has suggested that he and his teammates will be focusing on the competition, hopefully fulfilling a career ambition at the same time. Baily, confirming the above, stated:

“For me, it is very, very important because I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Champions League but I have only made the Europa League until now.

“My dream of the Champions League is about to come true. I am happy and I am mentally ready for the game.”

The Ivorian defender has been a supporter watching many Champions League over the year, most of the time with envy. Bailly believes that watching many matches has inspired him ahead of his debut, which is a good thing. The player has done well since his move to United from Villarreal in the summer of 2016, seemingly being a player for the future, establishing himself as one for now which has surprised everyone. The player is normally the first name on the team sheet in defence, which has been down to his form, his performances and the fact he’s a great defensive option for the team. Bailly concluded by saying:

“There are Champions League matches that have really wowed me – like when I saw the final [last season] between Real Madrid and Juventus. There are plenty of other matches too, it’s also something that motivates me.

“To see that tournament is really important for me, to draw experience from it until the moment when I have the opportunity to be involved in the team and play in the Champions League myself.”

The match in Moscow this evening will be a tough one for United, playing twice against CSKA Moscow in Russia, winning once in 2009 and drawing in 2015. Jose Mourinho will be seeking another three points and with the team he has out against the Russian side, it is something he means business with, as well as testing his three at the back formation once again, which with better attacking players, and not to mention Nemanja Matic, will show it could actually work this season.


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