Forget struggling Aston Villa at home or even an on fire Liverpool at Old Trafford – anything can happen in a one off encounter between fierce local rivals.
The perfect barometer for where Manchester United are right now will come over the next 8 days in the mammoth ties against Bayern Munchen. On form, this is the best team in Europe. Bayern also have the best squad in Europe. And when things are going this well at a club, they tend not to have ‘bad’ games. They are on song and playing at their optimum on a weekly basis.
Remember Manchester United in 1999? Sure, they struggled to cope with the very same team in the final of The Champions League but were without their two best players in Keane and Scholes. Prior to that game they had pretty much dispatched every other team that they played that season with minimum fuss and maximum entertainment.
That is where Bayern are right now. So don’t expect them to have an off day. On the positive side, Manchester United are one of the few sides that can go toe to toe with this giant. Their form has been dreadful this season and they will need to perform at least twice as well as they have done all season to win through. But the quality is still there if David Moyes can pick the right side.
We hear that Rafael could be missing. That would be a massive blow to a Manchester United side that needs all the pace it can get. But the player himself seems more confident than the manager that he can shake off the muscle strain in time for the game. We shall assume he is fit.
On the other side it looks as if Alex Buttner will play in the absence of Patrice Evra. He’s a quick lad and will put in a shift, as well as a few decent crosses. But let’s hope he doesn’t get his pants pulled down by Arjen Robben in the defending department. We might have been tempted to play a midfielder in there but Buttner is, at least, a specialist in that position and left-footed.
Jones and Ferdinand should play at the back together. The midfield will include Carrick and Giggs, who has been wrapped in cotton wool in anticipation of this game. We do hope that Shinji Kagawa gets to play behind Wayne Rooney and that Welbeck stays out wide on the left, where he seems to cause most damage. We would also like to see Antonio Valencia in the side to add pace and power. But he is an injury doubt for the game. We shall again assume he makes the team.
Our big concern is that Fellaini will get the nod over Kagawa as Manchester United flood the midfield and add a defensive midfielder. We believe that Manchester United’s strongest suit is the attacking department so they should concentrate on scoring goals at Old Trafford instead of not conceding.
So here is our strongest available eleven for Manchester United’s season defining game. Let us know your thoughts.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Buttner, Ferdinand, Jones, Rafael – Carrick, Giggs – Welbeck, Kagawa, Valencia – Rooney
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