Manchester United’s Europa League campaign continues on Thursday in Istanbul, where Fenerbahce await at Sukru Saracoglu, with Marcos Rojo confident the Reds can overcome a hostile atmosphere.
Rojo feels the Istanbul outfit will be a different proposition on their home turf after losing 4-1 at Old Trafford last month, when he joked he felt like the only man not enjoying Robin van Persie’s goal on his return to his former club.
Turkey has proved to be a difficult country for United to visit in European competition, with the Reds winning only three of seven games played there. One of those was a 2-0 victory over Thursday’s opponents in 1996, though Fener avenged that result eight years later by defeating an under-strength United side 3-0, with Tuncay netting a hat-trick.
Jose Mourinho’s men can open up a five-point gap to third-placed Fenerbahce with victory in Thursday’s Group A encounter, but defender Rojo is not underestimating the Turkish outfit, despite the convincing victory in the last meeting.
“It’s definitely an important match,” Rojo told MUTV. “It’s very important for us to go to Turkey and get the three points to help secure our passage to the knockout rounds of the competition.
“We can’t forget that they have the home fans, who bring a lot of support to their team. It’s important that we prepare right, stay calm and hopefully come home with the victory.”
Marcus Rashford has spoken of the intimidating atmosphere that United can expect in Istanbul and Rojo is also ready for it, having faced similar experiences while playing for Estudiantes in his native Argentina at the start of his career.
“All matches at this level attract a very vociferous support and the fans are always right behind their team,” the 26-year-old continued.
“We know this about Fenerbahce too, but it is very much the same case in South America. We just have to ensure we stay focused on the job in hand.”
Van Persie is expected to again lead the line for the hosts, having scored that consolation goal at Old Trafford last month that was applauded by almost everyone – except Rojo.
“It will be great to go against Robin again,” the defender said. “That goal he scored at Old Trafford went down well with pretty much everybody – the United support were cheering him too. I think I was the only person who wasn’t celebrating!
“But Robin is a great player and, knowing him as we do, we know what his strengths are. We’ll go out there and try to keep a lid on him.”