When and where: The Champions League Group H match kicks-off from Old Trafford at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on FoxSoccer2Go.
Preview: As Manchester United look to recover from their disastrous elimination from the Champions League at last season’s group stage, memories will be fresh of another of the club’s most ignominious European exits. It was 19 years ago that after a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray at Old Trafford, United travelled to Istanbul and were greeted with a most hostile reception that lived up to their “welcome to hell” greeting.
United put in a dismal performance as the match finished scoreless and United exited with Eric Cantona sent off and then assaulted by local police. By comparison, last year’s flimsy showing as United were edged out for a knockout phase by Benfica and Basel, looks banal.
For a side that had reached three of the competition’s previous four finals, their elimination came as a major shock to all involved with United, however. Qualification for the latter stages was such a given at Old Trafford, that boss Sir Alex Ferguson could usually use the group phase to rest some of his big names. But no chances will be taken this season.
"In some years, the group stage has been straightforward and I've played a lot of young players,” Ferguson said, according to Manchester United’s website. “But the team will be more experienced tomorrow."
With that in mind, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa should come back into the lineup after being left out at the weekend following knocks picked up on international duty. Ferguson has also given a strong hint that David De Gea will regain his place in goal.
As for their opponents on Wednesday, Galatasaray, they and Turkish soccer as a whole have come a long way since their minnow tags of the past. Although, after their success of the late 1990s, Galatasaray have had a difficult few years, they are now back in the Champions League group phase for the first time in six years.
Under the tutelage of Turkish coaching legend Fatih Terim, Galatasaray have several players with ample experience against Manchester United. Johan Elmander, Milan Baros, Emmanuel Eboue and Albert Riera have all had spells in the Premier League. The dangerman, though, could be on-loan Turkish striker Umut Bulut, who has scored five goals in just four league games this season after arriving from Toulouse. Galatasaray will be missing experienced Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi with a long-term injury.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Valencia, Kagawa, Welbeck
F: Van Persie
D: Eboue, Kaya, Cris. Balta
M: Altintop, Melo, Inan, Amrabat
F: Elmander, Bulut
Prediction: Manchester United’s problems in the Champions League last season came with lapses at home to relinquish leads against both Benfica and Basel at Old Trafford. But Ferguson is not a man to let the same mistakes happen again and there should be a much more secure approach this time around.
United look to have far too much creativity and firepower going forward for a Galatasaray defense missing Ujfalusi to handle and should run out comfortable victors.
Manchester United 3-1 Galatasaray
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