February 21, 2017 / 7:41 PM / 7 months ago

St Etienne say not obsessed by nemesis Ibrahimovic

Britain Football Soccer - Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United - FA Cup Fifth Round - Ewood Park - 19/2/17 Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring their second goal Reuters / Phil Noble

SAINT-ETIENNE, France (Reuters) - St Etienne are Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s preferred victims but Les Verts refuse to obsess over the Manchester United striker ahead of their Europa League last-32 return leg on Wednesday.

No other team in Europe have been more haunted by Ibrahimovic, who has scored three hat tricks against the French club, including one in the first leg that put United on the brink of qualification with a 3-0 win.

Ibrahimovic has scored 17 goals against St Etienne in 14 games.

“Ibrahimovic’s statistics against us are outstanding, he is a great player,” St Etienne midfielder Romain Hamouma told a news conference on Tuesday. “However, we cannot be obsessed by just one player.”

St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier said United could inflict damage through any number of players.

“You can have an anti-Ibrahimovic plan or an anti-Paul-Pogba plan but with this team danger can come from anywhere,” said Galtier.

Britain Football Soccer - Manchester United Training - Manchester United Training Ground - 21/2/17 Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly during training Reuters / Andrew Yates

St Etienne go into the match as underdogs and Galtier said his team would need to seize their chances with the home fans behind them.

“We need a great start. We will have chances like in the first leg but this time we will have to convert them,” he said.

Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho, who has to make do without the injured Wayne Rooney, is taking nothing for granted as he knows Geoffroy Guichard is one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe.

“I played here with Porto and I came later for St Etienne versus Lyon, as I was getting Lyon in the Champions League draw. I know the stadium, it is more beautiful now,” he told a news conference.

“I know the atmosphere. I know tomorrow it will be amazing to play. Everyone likes that. I don’t like to breathe the smoke. I don’t think the players like to breath the smoke.”

“It is a big atmosphere, a great atmosphere, maybe the greatest in France and we know their fans will motivate them very well,” said forward Anthony Martial, who played in the stadium when he was at Monaco.

“We need to keep our focus and score a goal that will end their hopes of qualification.”

Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Richard Lough and Clare Fallon

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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