The last match between these two sides yielded few positives. Antonio Valencia suffered a horrific injury that will keep him sidelined until February at the earlier. The fixture could not even provide entertainment with the match ending in a dull goalless draw; meaning Manchester United had to settle for a solitary point at Old Trafford. But when United travel to Ibrox on Wednesday, a point will be all United needs to advance to the knock-out round for the fifth consecutive season.
Of course, United fans will expect the team to win rather than play for a draw. Depending on the Valencia-Bursaspor result, three points for United could be enough to win the group. This doesn’t mean United won’t use a slightly conservative approach. A hostile away environment almost certainly means 4-5-1. Reports suggest that Wayne Rooney will start against Rangers after returning from injury this weekend. The striker is still trying to rediscover is brilliant form from last season, but there always a chance the floodgates could burst open at any minute.
I can’t see Sir Alex using a full strength side for this one, instead opting for a mixture of established talent and promising youth. Rooney should receive service from Nani and Gabriel Obertan on the wings. Nani’s selection almost goes without saying at this point. As for Obertan, depleted wingers should allow for the Frenchman to impress. In the midfield the experience Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick should start alongside Darron Gibson. The Irishman desperately needs to prove himself to assure a future at Old Trafford and this would be a fantastic opportunity. At the back, I suspect we’ll see Tomasz Kuszczak get another opportunity in goal. The first choice back four may be used ahead of Kuszczak to keep another European clean sheet.
Rangers currently sit third in the standings and a win will be important for their chances of advancing from the group, so don’t expect this to be an easy game. United are hoping for early qualification for the knock-out rounds, Rangers are fighting to keep their Champions League campaign alive. That said, I predict a tight and dramatic match ending 2-1 in favour of United. Rooney to get himself back on the score sheet with a brace in the Battle of Britain.
*It has since been confirmed that Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, and Darron Gibson are not part of the travelling squad.
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