By Ben Davies
After a disappointing result/performance against Glasgow Rangers in Game Week One of Champions League, Manchester United will be hoping to bounce back when they face Valencia at the Mestalla on Wednesday.
Info on Valencia:
- Valencia are currently top of Group C after romping to a 4-0 victory over Bursaspor.
- Despite losing David Villa and David Silva, Valencia find themselves first in La Liga after claiming four victories in their first five fixtures. Aritz Aduriz is their leading goal scorer with three goals in all competitions.
- Players to watch out for: Roberto Soldado and Mehmet Topal.
- Team News: Joaquín Sánchez is unavailable due to a suspected thigh injury. Doubts surround Éver Banega and Vicente Rodríguez after missing out on recent weeks.
- In the 2009-10 season Valencia finished third in La Liga.
- Los Che failed to qualify for the 2009-10 Champions League after finishing sixth in the previous season. They took part in the inaugural Europa League and lost at the Quarter Final stage (on away goals) to the eventual winners Atlético Madrid.
- The Spanish Club has twice been Champions League runners up: in 2000 (losing 3-0 to Real Madrid) and 2001 (losing 5-4 on penalties to Bayern Munich).
- Valencia is placed third in the all time La Liga table (behind giants Real Madrid and Barcelona).
Man United Team Selection Discussion
In recent years 4-5-1/4-3-3 has been the preferred formation for away fixtures in the Champions League, Wednesday night is unlikely to be different, especially considering the number of goals conceding this season. Team selection has perhaps one or two questions in defence and midfield.
John O’Shea has been favoured at right back so far this season, but I feel we may see a change tonight with either Wes Brown or Rafael given an opportunity. We may also see Rio Ferdinand replace Jonny Evans. Due to fitness I’m not entirely convinced Rio is the solution for defensive frailties, but his return may bring confidence to others in the backline. Suring up midfield is likely to have a greater impact. Patrice Evra will remain at left back – he requires a performance after a slow start to the season.
Now to midfield, the biggest concern without Paul Scholes? With the absence of the influential midfielder, Anderson is the most likely to start alongside Darren Fletcher. Michael Carrick has made a timely recovery from injury and has travelled with the squad. If fully fit Carrick would be my preferred choice, but if not I’d have no problem with Darron Gibson making up the three man midfield. His better performances have come whilst playing in a three man midfield, notably Bayern Munich at Old Trafford and away to Manchester City. Gibson may not have been a standout player at the Eastlands, but he grafted and did the donkey work allowing Scholes to dictate play – hopefully he can fulfil a similar role so Anderson can shine.
With limited options on the wing positions Ji-Sung Park and Nani are likely starters. I’m not greatest fan of Park playing on the wing, but this game is ideal for him and his better attributes will be utilised.
With Wayne Rooney unavailable Dimitar Berbatov is likely to play the lone striker role. If Anderson is the furthest forward midfielder I’m interested to see how he and Berbatov link up. Could be one or two frustrated looking faces tonight….
At the start of every match I believe United will win – for the first time this season I’m slightly concerned with the outcome of Wednesday’s game. The midfield without Scholes is a real worry – doesn’t inspire great confidence. A tight low scoring game me thinks – a 1-0 victory for either side or a 1-1 draw is my score prediction.
Predicted Team: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Gibson, Fletcher, Anderson, Park; Nani, Berbatov.
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