Harry Maguire insists nobody at Manchester United has “even thought about the Europa League” as the Red Devils prepare to enter the Champions League’s last-chance saloon.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are due in Germany on Tuesday for a crunch clash with RB Leipzig. United head into that contest say top of Group H and know avoiding defeat will see them safely through to the last-16.
Coming unstuck, though, could see them tumble into third spot, with Paris Saint-Germain taking on Istanbul Basaksehir in the group’s other game.
Failure to reach the knockout stages would see United have to make peace with the consolation prize of a spot in the last-32 of the Europa League, but Maguire is adamant that elite continental competition remains the target for those looking to maintain “tradition” at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils captain told a pre-match press conference: “We expect to get through the group, no matter who is in our group. That is the tradition and as a group of players we fully expect to get through. We look forward to the game. All we can do is look after the performance.
“You play better teams with better players, that is just a fact. It is a challenge, one we want to be involved in, but we haven’t even thought about the Europa League.”
United do not have to turn the clock back far to find the last time they faced an all-or-nothing encounter with Champions League football on the line.
Back in July, as an elongated 2019-20 campaign ended, Solskjaer’s men knew they needed to beat Leicester on the final day in order to finish in the Premier League top four.
They obliged with a 2-0 win secured at the King Power Stadium, and Maguire is looking to put that experience to good use as the Red Devils seek to transfer their fine domestic away form onto a European stage.
He added: “First and foremost, I joined this club to play in the biggest games possible.
“Your big players step up in the most pressured games, so for sure I think that’s a statement which shows over the years, that the big players step up in the big games.
“It’s a bit similar to the game at Leicester last year where we had to get a result to reach the Champions League and we managed to do that, so we’ll take confidence from that, but we feel ready, we feel prepared and we’re looking forward to it.” lsdlo