Rafael da Silva is confident that Manchester United can beat anybody in Europe this season in their pursuit of winning the Champions League again.
United worked hard in their quest for a win in a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford after two consecutive home defeats in the past week and topped their group with 14 points, remaining the only undefeated English side in the competition.
But Rafael believes that United’s impressive group stage is only the start for United this year as we look to put the woes of last year’s knock-out blow against Real Madrid behind us.
“It was important to come first in the group. We did the job and it was very important.” Rafael said.
“Shakhtar worked hard and played well in the first half but we kept the ball well in the second half. Their Brazilian players have skills and it was a hard game but, in the end, it is a good result for us.
“I can remember last season when we also won the group and yet we played Real Madrid. I hope something like that doesn’t happen again but we can take anyone.
“I’ve seen Manchester City won 3-2 against Bayern Munich, which is a surprise, but City finished second so we can’t play Bayern yet. I think that is a good thing.”
Under UEFA rules, United cannot play Arsenal or Manchester City in the next round. The five teams we can face are Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Zenit, Schalke or AC Milan in Monday’s draw, with the matches taking place next year in February and March.
However, the focus will be on Sunday’s clash against Aston Villa at Villa Park with United looking to bounce back in the Premier League in the middle of a hectic schedule that all of the teams face later this month.
“I think this is a very big game for us now,” claimed Rafael.
“We need to get back to winning ways in the Premier League as well and show the same form we have had in the Champions League. We need to do the same in the league.
“It’s true [Villa Park is one of our favourite venues]. I remember it was a very good game last year when Chicharito claimed three goals (one went down as a Ron Vlaar own goal) as we came back from 2-0 down. I hope we can get another win there.”