Villarreal vs. Manchester United - Who will play?
By Andrew Cuff
Monday 24 Nov 2008 20:00:00
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United midweek clash looms ever closer as United’s injury worries are heightened. Today the United squad made the trip to Spain ahead of the encounter of the two group leaders. Celtic and Aalborg both have slim chances of gaining qualification lying 6 points behind United and Villarreal with two games left. Celtic still have a chance of qualification with a win over Aalborg and victory over Villarreal in two weeks however a solitary point for United and Villarreal will ensure qualification into the next round of the Champions League.

United have only conceded one goal in first 4 games this season though a goalless draw against Villarreal in the opening match at Old Trafford showed just what the Spanish giants are capable of. United however cannot afford to lose the match, though Van Der Sar being left in Manchester means that it will either be Kuszczak or Ben Foster. Foster will be keen to get a game after conceding the early goal in the Celtic match, however Ferguson is in the testing phase of these two youngsters and Kuszczak has yet to show his quality in the Champions League.

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United are also without Scholes and Hargreaves due to long term injuries and Berbatov and Brown are also left at home while they try to recover from injuries. Ronaldo was the big doubt for United after being substituted in the draw at Villa Park after what looked like a hamstring strain, though he has made the trip out to Spain and took part in training this morning with United. I expect though that Ferguson will start the star on the bench and utilize him as his 60th minute substitute if United are struggling. Fletcher who missed the weekend clash travelled with the squad and seems fit enough to play in the match.

I expect we will see a starting line up consisting of Kuszczak, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic and Rafael at the back supported by Nani, Anderson, Carrick and Fletcher who will be feeding Rooney and Tevez up front. Substitutes are likely to be Foster, Giggs, Evans, Ronaldo and Manucho.

Players that travelled to Spain : Foster, Kuszczak; Evra, Rafael, O'Shea, J.Evans, Ferdinand, Vidic; Fletcher, Possebon, Anderson, Carrick, Ronaldo, Park, Nani, Gibson, Giggs; Rooney, Tevez, Manucho.

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Rafael is likely to start after being sidelined over the weekend, and will Gary Neville being left at home most likely for the City clash. Fletcher who was instrumental in United’s start to the season and has scored a few goals I expect will start the match down the right preferred over Park who had a disappointing game. Tevez has created a stir on the transfer front is likely to start, despite his goalless streak, many commentators are putting this down to lack of game time, personally I was appalled at how badly he played at Villa Park and can understand why Ferguson may recall Campbell from his spell at Spurs to replace Tevez. I do not see Ferguson paying over the odds for Tevez and despite the interest from other clubs I believe if Tevez wishes to stay at Old Trafford he will have to start performing at the top level to prove his worth.

While Ferguson needs to secure points at Villarreal I expect we will not see a full strength United squad starting in Spain due to the fact that United travel to take on rivals Manchester City over this weekend, and while a solitary point will secure qualification in the Champions League United cannot afford to lose points in the Manchester derby.

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