Manchester United have to 'want it more' than Liverpool - Daley Blind
Manchester United defender Daley Blind has warned his teammates that they have to "want it more" when they face Liverpool at Anfield in the Europa League on Thursday.
England's two most successful football clubs are meeting in Europe for the first time in their history in the round-of-16 tie and the stakes are high.
Both clubs are outside the top four in the Premier League, but are hungry for a return to the Champions League -- which is the prize for the Europa League winners.
Former Liverpool players have been vocal of their criticism of United in the build-up to the first-leg. John Aldridge called United a "very, very ordinary team" with "no world beaters," while Steve McManaman has described Liverpool as favourites.
Blind, though, is looking forward to the contest, despite United having a mini fixture pile-up. The club could end up playing another 20 games this season -- including potential replays -- and no other Premier League club will play more.
"It's a busy schedule coming up again and Liverpool will be a great game to play in, especially as it's now in the Europa League," Blind said. "You're either in or out, through to the next round or not, so it's very important for us. They will say it's important for them too, so we have to show that we want it more."
The Netherlands international will take heart from United's recent form against Liverpool.
United have done the double over them in the league this season, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in September and 1-0 at Anfield in January -- having also completed a league double over the Merseyside club last season.
Blind, who scored in the home match this season, said: "Yes, I've definitely got some good memories against Liverpool -- I hope we can create some more."
But former Liverpool striker Aldridge is not fazed by the fixture.
Writing in his column for the Liverpool Echo, he said: "When you think of some of the sides United have come to Anfield with -- which could terrify the life out of you -- it's strange that we've lost the last four games against them, because this is a very, very ordinary team.
"They have a go, but there are no world-beaters there. [Anthony] Martial is a threat and [Jesse] Lingard is OK."
Discussing the occasion, he added: "The Manchester United game is huge. I've always wanted to play against them in Europe, although I obviously hoped it would be in the Champions League.
"The eyes of the world will be on the two legs, with the massive global fan bases of both clubs. Apart from finals, I think it's almost certainly the biggest game in UEFA/Europa Cup history."
McManaman also believes that the two clubs drawing each other is a boost for the competition.
He told the Daily Star: "A Liverpool vs. United game in Europe is going to be amazing isn't it? It'll elevate and give the Europa League a huge amount of gravitas.
"I bet UEFA were licking their lips. There are some real big teams left in it this year and Liverpool playing United will just give it that extra little bit.
"I think Liverpool will be favourites. They'll be happy they don't have to travel."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.