Edwin van der Sar is relieved Manchester United have avoided the "crazy" Champions League madness which has left some of Europe's biggest names on the brink of being evicted.

While most attention on these shores has surrounded Liverpool's plight, other famous clubs are in just as much strife. Bayern Munich's position is no better than Liverpool's, last year's winners Barcelona are currently outside the two qualification slots, fellow La Liga side Atletico Madrid are already out, while neither AC Milan nor Real Madrid can rest easily just yet.

"The other groups are crazy," said Van der Sar. "It used to be the case that you always wanted to be first in your group but there are a couple this time where you know already that the runners-up would bring a difficult draw in February."

He added: "The most important thing is to get the win and see what happens later on."

United take on Besiktas at Old Trafford knowing a repeat of their win in Istanbul two months ago could secure their status as Group B winners, or at the very worst just a point away.

It is only what was expected from a side that has reached the semi-finals for three years on the trot, and the final in the last two years.

But Van der Sar acknowledges what has gone before counts for nothing in a competition some, including Sir Alex Ferguson, feel is more intense than the World Cup.

"It is not easy to get to the final," said the veteran Dutchman. "There is a lot of quality around and we have lost some players, so just because you have reached two consecutive finals, it doesn't automatically mean you are going to get to a third. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

"But what we are doing now is all building to what we hope will be a nice end to the season.

"You don't win things early in the season. You have a path to go along, starting with the group phase. Everything is part of the big picture to win a trophy."

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Edwin Van der Sar
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UEFA Champions League
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