St Etienne have nothing to lose against Man Utd: Loic Perrin

Loic Perrin celebrates after scoring for Saint-Etienne during a French league match against Lorient on February 12, 2017

Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin insisted on Wednesday that his team has nothing to lose when they tackle Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Europa League.

And while the centre-back admitted he would have preferred to avoid United so soon in the competition -- the last 32 -- he said the entire club was excited to be taking on one of Europe's powerhouses.

"We would have liked to meet them later, that would have been a good sign for us as it would have meant we'd got through at least one more round," said Perrin.

"Initially we said 'damn', that's not the best draw. But we're playing in Europe to take part in exactly this type of match.

"They're a top European club who, not so long ago, were winning the Champions League."

Perrin just wants his team to avoid letting the occasion get to them and simply do their best.

"We've got nothing to lose. You have to make the most of these moments, play freely and why not create a surprise?

"We need to be bold and be ourselves, most of all don't be shy, don't be intimidated by the environment and the great players that will line up opposite us."

One such will likely be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 14 goals in 13 matches against St Etienne during his four-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain, losing only once, and that on penalties in a cup game.

"He's the type of player you dream about facing. It's always amazing for us defenders to test ourselves against such world class players," added Perrin.

"That's what we all want, always, but at Manchester he's not the only player of that calibre."

Following Thursday's first leg, St Etienne will entertain United in the second leg on March 22.