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Saturday 10 December 2016

Michael Carrick: Even without Kevin de Bruyne, Wolfsburg are still a class team

Michael Carrick started Saturday's 1-0 win over Spurs at Old Trafford
Michael Carrick started Saturday's 1-0 win over Spurs at Old Trafford

Wolfsburg may have lost Kevin de Bruyne, but Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick still expects a tough challenge from the Germans when they come to Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday.

United will be looking to register their first group stage victory when they face the runners-up from last season's Bundesliga.

De Bruyne played a big part in Wolfsburg's qualification last year, providing 21 assists for his team-mates during the campaign. No player in Europe's top five leagues could better that tally, so it was no surprise he was courted by other clubs.

Manchester City ended up signing the Belgian playmaker for £54million in the summer, but Carrick feels the Germans still have enough threats in their squad to cause United problems.

"Yes, De Bruyne has been a good player for them but from what I have seen they are a good team," the vice-captain told Inside United.

"For German teams to qualify through that league they must be strong and you have got to take them seriously.

"It will be a tough game but there aren't any easy games in the Champions League.

"We'll look forward to it and approach it as we approach any group (game).

"We'll take it one game at a time and hopefully come out on top."

After a 17-month absence, United marked their return to Europe's top club competition with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven.

The horrific leg-break suffered by Luke Shaw clearly affected United's players and PSV came from behind to beat Louis van Gaal's men at the Philips Stadion.

Being top seeds in Group B, Phillip Cocu's team were always going to provide United and Van Gaal with their sternest test in the first phase of the competition.

Fourth seeds Wolfsburg suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek and Chris Smalling knows United have to go in for the kill if they are to progress to the knockout stages.

"I think with how the other game went, losing 2-1 to PSV, we know that our home games in the Champions League are crucial to getting through the group," the United defender said.

"Hopefully we can keep the fans happy and take maximum points."

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