2012/13 UEFA Champions League: Manchester United v Galatasaray Preview
The Red Devils welcome Champions League football to Old Trafford once more after crashing out of the group stages last time out.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men come into the game with a fine weekend win over Wigan Athletic in which two debutants managed to net their first goals for the club. The 19-time English champions look to have solved their defensive crisis and avenging last December’s crushing defeat will be the players’ priority this time.
Having enjoyed a brilliant start in their domestic campaign, the Turkish giants are in impressive form as they travel to Manchester. The last time these two sides met, United were on the losing end after being edged out on goal difference. But under Fergie’s tutelage, they have enjoyed a good spell against Spor Toto Süper Lig clubs, with Bursapor the most recent victims in the 2010/11 season.
Although a number of injuries will force Fergie to make some changes ahead of the game, the squad is large enough to accommodate any formation the Scot decides upon.
Patrice Evra is the most notable omission after sitting out the Wigan game with a knock. However, Alexander Buttner proved that the fans might not miss the all-action Frenchman, netting a debut goal and assist to earn the man-of-the-match plaudits at the Theatre of Dreams.
And with the coach’s blessings, he could be in line to start his maiden European game for the Reds. But Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young are likely to continue their recovery from a thigh and knee injury respectively and a return is more probable on the weekend.
While Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have returned to form a solid-central partnership, Chris Smalling (metatarsal) and Phil Jones (knee) remain on the treatment table with no specific time period for a comeback revealed.
The goalkeeping decision will also be an interesting one, with Anders Lindegaard in contention to start after keeping a clean sheet against the Latics on Saturday.
Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa will resume their roles up-front, while Antonio Valencia and Luis Nani continue on the wing.
Paul Scholes was lauded highly for his 700th display and should settle in well alongside Michael Carrick in the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Rafael will be the last name in team sheet, slotting in his usual place on the right.
The 2008 UEFA Champions League winners went out in the group stages last year, but Ferguson has vowed to improve on that record starting with tomorrow’s crucial tie.
“If we don’t go through, we will be criticised and pilloried for it and quite rightly. We’ve had our warning and I don’t anticipate going out this time. We’ve lost two finals to Barcelona and won two in the last decade or so but we want to do better. Certainly, we’ll do better than last year – no question about that.”
“The European Cup is incredible. There’s an atmosphere in the build-up to a European final and great charisma about it. Also, without question, it elevates your status within the game like the Real Madrids and AC Milans. We want to be up there in terms of the number of trophies won in European football,” he added.
Fatih Terim’s men face a tough task in England, but they are buoyed with a full squad to choose from. Tomas Ujfalusi is the only omission and is likely to be out for the season after suffering damage to his cruciate ligament.
Engin Beytar has missed the club’s domestic campaign with suspension but could be in line to make his season bow against the Premiership contenders.
Manchester United: Robin Van Persie
The Dutchman has opened the goal scoring floodgates at his new club and should make his Champions League debut tomorrow.
Galatasaray: Hamit Altintop
Following his move from Real Madrid, the Turkish International has adjusted well in his homeland but will need to stamp his authority on the game right from the start or risk being overrun by United’s star studded midfield.
Manchester United 3-1 Galatasaray