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Published: 10:27 | 14/3/16

Mata ready for important week


Juan Mata is relishing the opportunity to play Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of four days, describing it as a very important week for Manchester United.

The Red Devils host Liverpool in the Europa League last-16 on Thursday evening, trailing 2-0 for the first leg before they travel to the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester derby on Sunday.

Liverpool were by far the better side in the first leg and United face an uphill task to try and overturn the deficit. Mata knows it will not be easy but he believes they can achieve their goal if they deliver the 'spirit of the big games'.

"Playing against Liverpool and Manchester City is always special for us and for our fans. On top of that, we will do it in just four days according to the calendar," Mata wrote in his weekly blog.

"There's a very important week ahead: we have the chance to overcome the score of Europa League's first leg and to shorten the gap with one of our rivals in the Premiership. As from today, we are absolutely focused on having two successful games, although the task is not easy and we are aware of that.

"We must bring back the spirit of the big games and show that we still have the opportunity to lift trophies."

Looking ahead to Thursday's second leg, Mata wrote: "We need to have a good start on Thursday, with intensity. It's like a final for us.

"We need a comeback and I'm sure that the atmosphere in Old Trafford will take us closer to that goal. I'm sure it's possible. In the last few seasons we have played some thrilling games against Liverpool, with some great wins too, and we want to do it one more time.

"They were better than us in the first leg, but again, we have to produce a memorable European night this Thursday. All together we can do it."

United drew 1-1 with West Ham in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final after Anthony Martial cancelled out Dimitri Payet’s stunning free kick and they remain in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.

"After Anthony's late goal we still have the chance to go to Wembley and try to win the FA Cup. I had to follow the game from the stands because of my suspension; it was strange for me..." Mata added.

"The game was not easy and the draw takes us to a replay where West Ham will now play at home, which is an advantage for them, obviously, but we will go there with the belief that we can win and get to the semi finals. We've seen teams like Arsenal or Chelsea being knocked out, but our hope to get this trophy, that the club hasn't won in a few years, is still alive."

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