Henrikh Mkhitaryan assesses Manchester United’s chances of winning the Champions League

by Leo Nieboer

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has insisted that Manchester United will continue to improve in Europe ahead of their Champions League visit to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

The Armenian was an indispensable asset during Man United’s Europa League triumph last year, netting six goals – including the crowning one in the final.

Jose Mourinho’s men made a solid start to their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over FC Basel and will now travel to Moscow for a clash with CSKA, who held United to a 1-1 draw during their last visit.

But Mkhitaryan, reflecting on the upcoming clash, noted that United were a much improved outfit that stumbled out of the group stages back in 2015.

“Winning the Europa League won us a place in the Champions League,” he said. “That means we can look back on last season and feel satisfied with ourselves.

“I know it was painful to be sixth in the Premier League, but with that Europa League final that we won we created a new chapter.

“We have given ourselves the chance to show that. This season there is a challenge to be better in the Premier League. But the new challenge is to go as far as we can in the Champions League.

“Manchester United will always play for trophies and titles and that’s what we want to do this season.”

Any team that wants to go far in the Champions League needs that special spark. Discipline, strength in depth, power, speed  and a strong mentality are all necessary, of course, but not sufficient for going all the way.

You need a player capable of producing moments of magic on the ball; somebody who can, with one mesmerising turn or pass, change the entire mood of an encounter.

Barcelona have Lionel Messi; Real Madrid have Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo; Juventus have Paulo Dybala; Paris Saint Germain have Neymar; Manchester City have Kevin de Bruyne.

And United have Mkhitaryan. He did it last year, and he will need to continue in the same vein over the next few months if Mourinho’s men are to make a splash in this competition.

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