Manchester United vs Galatasaray: Predicting United's Starting XI
Manchester United make their return to the Champions League by playing host to Turkish side Galatasaray.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to make sure that there is no repeat of last season's lack of qualification from the group stages and will have a strong squad at his disposal. Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa look set to return to the starting lineup after being rested against Wigan in the Premier League. Tom Cleverley and Jonny Evans may also return to the action.
Next weekend's Premier League game against Liverpool will be at the back of Sir Alex's mind when he selects his team. With that in mind, here are my predictions for United's starting lineup against Galatasaray.
GK: David de Gea
While Sir Alex might claim that it was merit that saw Anders Lindegaard take the goalkeeping reins in the visit of Wigan to Old Trafford in the Premier League—and it may well have been—it may have been to save de Gea for the opening game of the Champions League.
David de Gea to start.
LB: Patrice Evra
Sir Alex Ferguson handed Alexander Buttner his debut in place of Patrice Evra, and despite claims in the papers that Evra may be nearing the end of his Old Trafford career, the United boss confirmed that Evra "should be fit" for the Galatasaray game (BBC Sport).
RB: Rafael da Silva
Rafael da Silva was handed the No. 2 jersey at the start of this season and his performances so far have been worthy of that shirt.
His forward runs have been a staple of United's good play and he should most definitely start given the absences of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
CB: Nemanja Vidic
Why change it if it ain't broke?
CB: Jonny Evans
Rio Ferdinand played at center-back position against Wigan in United's last EPL outing, but the second-half introduction of Jonny Evans hinted that Sir Alex was looking to get the Northern Irishman back into form.
Additionally, with Liverpool waiting for United next weekend, three games in nine days would be too much.
CM: Tom Cleverley
Tom Cleverley's recent performances for both England and Manchester United have garnered rave reviews from his managers, fans and pundits (ESPN).
With the Liverpool game next weekend, playing Paul Scholes might be over-stretching the 37-year-old. As such, I can see Cleverley returning to midfield for United.
CM: Michael Carrick
These days, Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't seem to want to set up his teams without a holding midfielder, and of late, Michael Carrick has been his go-to guy.
That's unlikely to change against Galatasaray.
LM: Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck has been picked ahead of Luis Nani at left midfield a few times this season already and this is likely to happen again.
While Nani had a better game against Wigan than he did against Everton in the season opener, there is always an uncertainty about the type of Nani that will come out in each game.
RM: Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia was rested for the Wigan visit but should be fit to face Galatasaray. In a recent interview, speaking about Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young called the Ecuadorian "very professional" and "a great human being" (Mirror Football).
Last season he had everything. He attacks, he defends, he can shoot, he can cross, he can pass - he has it all. That's why he scooped up everything at the end-of-season awards. It's why the players voted for him and it's why the fans voted for him."
He's fantastic to play with. Antonio, like every other player, knows how to look after himself as well. He knows what to eat, what to drink and he works closely with our fitness coaches.
AM/C: Shinji Kagawa
Despite rumors of a back injury sidelining Kagawa, the Japanese midfielder got a place on a bench even if he was never brought on (The Guardian).
That inclusion suggests that he is fit to play and I believe he will make his Manchester United Champions League debut against Galatasaray.
SC: Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie's substitution at halftime in a World Cup qualifying match for Holland (suspected thigh injury) put his place in United's squad to face Wigan in doubt, but the striker came on in the second half and looked fit (ESPN Soccernet).
RVP to start for sure.