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ITS A SPECIAL WEEK FOR MANCHESTER UNITED


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will field a "strong" side as a "difficult week" continues with a Europa League match against Fenerbahce. Thursday's Group A fixture is United's second of three matches in six days. They drew 0-0 at Liverpool on Monday, and play Mourinho's old team Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. "It's a very difficult week for us. Monday, Thursday, Sunday; Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea. It's a special week. We have to be ready," he said. The Portuguese would not be drawn on his line-up - or whether forward Wayne Rooney would start the 20:05 BST kick-off at Old Trafford.
The England captain, 30, has been a substitute for United's past three matches. "I don't want to give you the team," said Mourinho. "Sometimes I do, but this time, no. "Wayne is working well, he is positive. We count on him - to start or to be on the bench. "If we play with a team that is not good and strong, we won't have a chance. We will play a really good team knowing two days later we have to play again." Mourinho did confirm attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is available after recovering from a thigh injury that has kept him out since mid-September.
 Thursday's game will put United against their former striker Robin van Persie, who left in 2015 having scored 58 goals over three seasons. "It will be a special occasion and a special game for me," the 33-year-old told MUTV. "In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it's United. I am looking forward to it. "It will be tough for us. United are the favourites, but you never know what will happen." The Turkish club's arrival in Manchester was delayed when the plane carrying the team was forced to make an emergency landing after it was hit by a bird.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique says he "can't imagine a better game"


Guardiola, 45, won 14 trophies in four years, before leaving Barca in 2012. City have four points in Champions League Group C, two fewer than Barca, who eliminated them in the knockout stages in both 2014 and 2015. "They play very attractive football," said Enrique, 46. "We know it will be more difficult than previous seasons." Guardiola left Bayern Munich during the summer to take charge at Etihad Stadium, and Enrique insists "you can see the hands of Guardiola" in City's recent displays.
They have won six of their opening eight Premier League matches to top the table ahead of Arsenal. City were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winners Real Madrid last season, and Guardiola feels more long runs in the competition would show progress. "I need to know my team as quick as possible and today is a good test," said Guardiola. "You are important in Europe when you are there a lot of the time - that is the next target." Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. Guardiola and Enrique are former Barcelona team-mates and have faced each another as managers before. City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and forward Nolito are expected to feature at the Nou Camp but midfielder Yaya Toure, another former Barcelona player, is not in Guardiola's 21-man squad.
Forward Kevin de Bruyne is fit again, while club captain Vincent Kompany came off the bench against Everton on Saturday to make his second appearance of the season. Barca have not lost at home in 17 Champions League matches, and welcomed Lionel Messi back from a groin injury in Saturday's 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna. Asked what advice he can give defenders to deal with Messi, Guardiola said: "I don't know. It is so difficult to control the talent, we know that. It's a good test for us to compete at one of the best teams." Enrique said defenders Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto had both overcome injuries and were in contention.

MANCHESTER CITY'S LIKELY STATS AGAINST 'ALMIGHTY BARCELONA'


Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique have similar decisions to make ahead of Wednesday's game, though only one can welcome back Lionel Messi. Pep Guardiola will keep us guessing over his tactical plans right up until his Manchester City side to face Barcelona is confirmed on Wednesday evening. Guardiola fielded a three-man defence against Everton at the weekend - perhaps due to the poor form and fitness of his full-backs - and has gambled on a similar approach at Camp Nou in the past.
With Pablo Zabaleta having noticeably struggled for pace against Celtic and Tottenham, it would be a risk to select him at right-back against Barcelona, although Guardiola abandoned his three-man experiment when his Bayern Munich side quickly became overwhelmed during the 2015 Champions League semi-final. Chances are that Zabaleta will come back into the side having been rested at the weekend, and given Bacary Sagna is City’s only major injury concern. Kevin De Bruyne will start in midfield having overcome his hamstring injury, although there is seemingly no resolution over how he will fit into the same side as Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva. The Belgian could play in a wider role, meaning only one available slot for Raheem Sterling, Nolito and Leroy Sane. Sergio Aguero did not start the Everton game but is fit and will return to the line-up. Barcelona also have the opportunity to mix things up. Lionel Messi will of course come back into the side following his return from injury at the weekend, but they could also field a back three if desired.
Luis Enrique also elected to go with a back three for the 4-0 victory against Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, but could return to a four-man defence given full-backs Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba are fit to start. The only remaining question mark surrounds who will line up in defence alongside Gerard Pique. Javier Mascherano is the tried and tested option, while Samuel Umtiti has impressed since joining the club but is just coming back from injury, and Jeremy Mathieu was rested during the international break. Andre Gomes, Arda Turan and Andres Iniesta are all vying for a starting role in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic.


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