Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists his side are well prepared for the challenge of Athletic Bilbao in tonight’s Europa League last 16 tie.

The Red Devils start as favourites against Los Leones, but are well aware that the team currently sitting fifth in La Liga will pose a number of threats against the English champions at Old Trafford tonight.

"It’s going to be a very difficult one – all the work we’ve done on Bilbao has been very impressive, what we’ve seen," said Ferguson during his pre-match press conference.

"They are a very progressive team in Spain at the moment, and it’s going to be a very difficult game for us."

Ferguson was also critical of his side’s performances in Europe so far this season, with the Red Devils crashing out of the Champions League in the group stages and stuttering to victory against Ajax in the last 32 of the Europa League after a comfortable first leg win.

The Scot is expecting things to be different against Marcelo Bielsa’s side tonight though, insisting his Manchester United players will have to start strongly to avoid an upset.

"It’s a game we need to be waking-up in, there’s no question about that. I think our European form this season has been disappointing," he added.

"But this is an opportunity to progress, and we have to take that opportunity, but we will need a very good performance."

David De Gea sat alongside the manager at the press conference, and the Spanish stopper is expected to maintain his place in the starting line-up for Manchester United after impressing in recent weeks.

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