Manchester United v/s Galatasaray,
Champions’ League Group Stage
The quest to become the kings of Europe starts in earnest. Last season, United had the dubious distinction of getting knocked out of Europe twice. Finish
ing 3rd in the their group United were demoted to play the Europa League. Atletico Madrid then eliminated them from the Europa League. Alex Ferguson will be keen on not repeating the mistakes of last season. Placed in a relatively easy group, complacency set in and United were just not good enough. The United manager has said that mistakes of last won’t be repeated. Only one home win in last year’s group stage was the architect of United’s downfall and Ferguson’s team will look to turn Old Trafford into a fortress once again. Galatasaray are making a comeback in Europe’s elite club competition. The last time they participated in the Champions League was in 2006-07. The club won the Turkish league comfortably last season. They have started the current season in flying colors. Even though they finished as champions, the top goal scorer list did not feature any Galatasaray player in the top 5 which clearly shows they play as a unit and their goals are shared amongst the team. United will have to be wary of the threat the Turkish side will pose.
Deposed as league champions and humiliated in European competitions, United had a season to forget last year. Getting eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League In what seemed to be a relatively easy group baffled many around the globe. United had only themselves for the poor performances. Only one win at Old Trafford is simply not good enough and United found it the hard way. After elimination from the Champions League, came the humiliation in the Europe League. United were outdone by a much superior Atletico Madrid side inspired by Fernando Llorente. United were simply outclassed by the Spaniards and had no answers. If history is anything to go by, United will be stronger and perform much better this time around. In 2005-06 United finished 4th in their group and were eliminated. The next three seasons were perhaps the most successful in the history of the club In Europe. United have added the likes of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa in their squad. Both players are well versed in Europe and will have to play an important role for United to be successful in Europe. Midfield is still a worry for the Red Devils but the recent performances of Scholes are a silver lining. Darren Fletcher who has been recovering from a stomach illness had been included in the squad.
Galatasaray were on a sabbatical from the premier club competition in Europe. The last they participated was in the 2006-07 season when they eliminated in the group stages. Since then they have not qualified for the Champions League. Last season, though was a different story. Led by Fatih Terim, who was appointed at the start of the 2011-12 season they claimed the Super Lig title in Turkey and automatically qualification for the Champions League. Galatasaray, virtually led the league from start to finish and ran out comfortable winners by a margin of 9 points. They have signed last season top scorer Buril Yilmaz to their roster. Terim already had a pretty daunting strike force with Elmander, Baros, Inan and with Yilmaz added to that list Galatasaray will be an exciting prospect. At the back, Czech international Tomas Uljafsi is the master at the back. Alongside Balta, Eboue and Kaya, they have a solid back four. Felipe Melo, the Brazilian on-loan from Juventus shields the defense with Hatim Altintop playing ahead of him. Galatasaray play an attacking brand of football. They are already on top of the league standing in Turkey and have scored 12 goals in the process. They will carry a threat at Old Trafford and as last season was a prime example that United are not unbeatable at The Theatre of Dreams.
Manchester United – The performance of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez against Wigan has given Sir Alex a major selection headache for this match. Robin van Persie would have been the ideal striker upfront with Kagawa playing behind him. Welbeck and Hernandez were excellent against Wigan and it might give the manager food-for-thought. At the back another headache awaits Ferguson. Anders Lindegaard or David De Gea. The Spaniard is the number 1 but was dropped a couple of matches earlier and did not find his way back in. Money would be on Lindegaard staying in goal but with Ferguson you never know. Whoever is between the stick will have Vidic and Ferdinand barring any mishaps. Rafael is the only recognized right back while at left back Evra would be instilled back if fit despite Buttner’s man of the match performances at the weekend. Nani and Valencia might start at the wings with Scholes and Carrick continuing their partnership in the middle of the park.
Galatasaray – Fatih Terim, in his playing days was known to be a hard tackler and a tough nut to crack. Now in the role of manager, his learnings are depicted in his team. His lays the foundations of his team on a solid defensive lineup which gives his attacking quarter freedom to express themselves. He plays a traditional 4-4-2 formation with a defensive midfielder shielding the defenders. Felipe Melo is usually deployed in that position with Altintop playing in the role of playmaker. Bulut, who is in red hot form this season leads the lines with Inan joining him in the false no.10 role. Galatasaray, despite being the underdogs won’t sit back and let United run the show. They will come at United with everything and will be hoping to come away with points from Old Trafford.
Manchester United – Paul Scholes – He may not be the dashing-into-the-box midfielder he once was but he still is one of the best in the world. He Is a silent assassin. He can unlock defenses with a exquisite pass or even a 50 yard cross field ball. The Turkish side will have to be aware of his threat and will have to keep a lid on Scholes.
Galatasaray – Umut Bulut –The Turkish striker has been in tremendous form at this early in the season. 5 goals in 4 matches in the league thus far is pretty impressive. On loan from Toulouse, Bulut is a handful and will keep the United defense on their toes. He has a got an eye for goal and will be keen on impressing the 75000 odd inside Old Trafford.