Juan Mata has his sights set on top spot in Champions League Group B, even though Manchester United are still to secure their place in the last 16 ahead of their clash with PSV on Wednesday.
Louis van Gaal’s men go into the game at Old Trafford in pole position in the pool with seven points from four matches, although PSV and Wolfsburg are close behind on six, with CSKA Moscow bottom on four.
That means a win for United over PSV would seal qualification for the knockout rounds, but Mata has his sights set higher in a week that also sees Van Gaal’s team travel to surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City.
“We could make an important step to finish first in our group in the Champions League and we could climb to the top of the Premier League – this is how we face this new week,” Spain international Mata wrote on his blog for United’s official website.
“We are feeling optimistic, as always, and our goal is to win both games and to have the best possible start to the busy period ahead.
“Obviously it is going to be tough and we will need to be at our highest level to beat PSV and Leicester. But let’s go little by little.
“It is time for another Champions League night at Old Trafford against PSV Eindhoven. We lost there in the first week and now we want to get the three points that would take us closer to the next stage.”
United lost 2-1 in Eindhoven in the first game of the pool – match marred by the horrendous leg break suffered by full-back Luke Shaw.
Since then, their strong Champions League home form has been vital, with wins over Wolfsburg and CSKA boosting their hopes of topping the group.
PSV have struggled on their travels having already lost to Wolfsburg and CSKA in this campaign as they look to end a run that has not seen them win a pool-stage Champions League away game since 2007.
The Dutch champions are not ideally placed domestically either. They trail Eredivisie leaders Ajax by four points and scrambled to a 2-2 draw at Willem II on Saturday, which prompted an angry warning from coach Phillip Cocu after they lost a lead for the fifth time this season.
“It is deteriorating further,” said the head coach on his side’s concentration. “We went 1-0 ahead we had to make more things happen. It is really important that we now go and look at this problem.
“It has happened too many times. If we want to win any prizes this season we are going to need to change it.”
United have been struggling with injuries, although Van Gaal hopes to have captain Wayne Rooney back from illness. Late checks will be made on Anthony Martial, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, but Phil Jones and Ander Herrera are expected to miss out.
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