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Europa League: Jose Mourinho says Rostov pitch is hard to believe

Ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday, Jose Mourinho has slammed the state of the pitch at Rostov’s Olimp-2 stadium.

The Portuguese said that he would like the game to be shifted elsewhere or to be postponed, after seeing the condition of the pitch.

Mourinho has compared the playing surface to that of the shambolic pitch at Bird’s Nest in Beijing last summer that forced the pre-season tour game against Manchester City to be cancelled.

The Portuguese said, as quoted by The Guardian:

It is still hard for me to believe we going to play tomorrow on that field, if you can call it a field and I don’t know which team to play [select], really.

It’s a very similar pitch to the one in summer in China – we and Man City decided not to play but it looks like we have to play [on Thursday].”

I don’t know. I spoke to one Uefa official and he said: ‘It doesn’t matter if one of the players gets injured as they are insured’.

Daley Blind also looked unimpressed with the state of the pitch, but the Dutchman has urged his team to focus on the game instead. He has echoed Mourinho’s concerns but said United can hardly afford to use the pitch as an excuse.

The Dutch defender said, as quoted by The Telegraph

The pitch is not the best, not good, maybe quality of game will be a bit different, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse for us, we have to try to win, that’s what we’re here for.

 The pitch is not good, maybe not for safety as well, but it is no an excuse, we want to win here, try to play a good game, that’s the most important thing.

Ivan Daniliants, the Rostov coach, had already issued a warning that United could face a huge shock with the pitch. He admitted that the pitch could be an issue following the mid-season break in the Russian Premier League.

The Russian Premier League has just returned after the winter break, but Rostov are yet to host a home match at their stadium in an attempt to protect the pitch. Rostov players haven’t trained before the game, but United players were allowed to practise on the surface.

Mourinho has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be in his squad for tomorrow’s game. Ibra, who has been handed a three-match ban by the FA, is free to play in European games.

Henrikk Mkhitaryan is available again after a hamstring injury, but Mourinho said he is unsure whether to take a risk with the Armenian forward, given the condition of the pitch.