Nemanja Matic believes the team with the strongest mentality will lift the Europa League in 9 days’ time.
Manchester United saw off FC Copenhagen in extra-time on Monday night, thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty. It was a difficult game on the night with difficult conditions as temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius.
On Tuesday night Sevilla’s late winner was the final nail in Wolves’ Europa League coffin. The La Liga side have an incredible record in the competition and will be United’s semi-final opponents on Sunday night.
Our Serbian midfielder admits that it has been a challenging campaign but stresses the importance of being mentally ready.
“Yes, I think we are in good condition,” Matic told reporters after the win over FC Copenhagen (as per ManUtd.com). “Of course the season is long but we knew it before, what we can expect, and the most important [thing] now is to be mentally ready.
“Physically I feel we are fine. We are in the same position like every other team so it’s important that we are mentally ready.
“I think that mental point will decide the semi-final — and final, of course.”
Matic is one of the most experienced players in the squad so there will be a lot of players looking up to the Serb.
This is United’s last shot at winning a trophy this season and since it’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full campaign in charge, and we’ve already clinched third place in the Premier League, it would be the icing on the cake.
Alongside Matic during the post-match press conference on Monday night, Solskjaer agreed with his midfielder and added further detail about how hot it was in Cologne.
“We’ve worked hard throughout the season,” said the boss. “We’ve come quite a distance from where we were fitness-wise but, as Nemanja says, mentally, that’s where it’s decided.
“And when you get tired, the opposition is probably more tired and you’ve just got to be mentally strong. [They were] difficult conditions, even for me with my shirt on. I started swearing and my T-shirt is wet, so I’m glad I didn’t have to run out there as much as they did!”
Solskjaer has done a great job this season but winning a trophy would be a huge relief as United go into next season hoping to mount a title challenge.
Champions League football is already in the bag but we should still be aiming for Europa League success.
No question about that.