Manchester United go into their second match of this season's Champions League with a home match against FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. The Reds go into the game after a bruising encounter with Stoke City at the weekend saw their 100% record disappear. Training ground injuries to Rooney, Carrick and Evans have depleted squad resources further which leaves just four recognised defenders fit and available.
Basel will have their most famous fan in attendance tomorrow at Old Trafford. Roger Federer will take time out from his busy schedule to watch the team at the Theatre of Dreams. The Swiss club go into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with FC Thun at the weekend.
United drew their opening Champions League fixture against Benfica a fortnight ago after a Giggs strike cancelled out a first half opener from Cardozo. The Swiss defeated Romanian minnows Otelul Galati on matchday one with goals from Fabian and Alexander Frei.
FC Basel were founded in 1893. One of their early club captains was Joan Gamper who went on to establish Barcelona in Spain. They play their home fixtures at St Jacob-Park that has a capacity of 38,500 and was built in 2001. They have won the Swiss Super League 14 times in their history and have competed in European competition every year since 1999/00.
Thorsten Fink was appointed manager in June 2009 after the ten year reign of Christian Gross. Fink came on as a substitute in the Champions League final in 1999 after 80 minutes against United and witnessed one of the most dramatic ends to any final. Basel currently lie in 4th place in the league with a record of played ten, won four and drawn four.
Stat zone by Rahul Singh
- United & Basel last met in 2002-03 Champions League. Match ended in 1-1 draw at Old Trafford but United won 3-1 in aggregate.
- United have lost only 1 of the last 32 CL home games.
- Rooney has failed to score in his last five Champions League games at Old Trafford
- United last Champions League defeat at Old Trafford was the 1-0 loss to Besiktas in the group stages two years ago.
- One of only two goals Gary Neville scored in 110 CL games was against FC Basel in 2002-03
- Darren Fletcher made his United debut when Basel visited Old Trafford on 12th March 2003
- Basle have won only one of 11 matches against English clubs. They have lost 7 of those 11.
- United only conceded four times at home in last season’s competition, but all teams they faced in the knockout stage scored at Old Trafford.
- Alexander Frei is in red hot form for FC Basel, he has scored nine goals in five games.
The game at Old Trafford seems an ideal opportunity to give Anders Lindegaard another taste of first team football after an impressive display in Lisbon a fortnight ago. David De Gea came through his expected ordeal at the Britannia Stadium with flying colours and can now look forward to a more comfortable run of games in the Premier League. The four fit defenders virtually pick themselves in my opinion with Valencia able to take a place further forward. The manager will be praying that no further injuries occur in the defence with the likes of Vidic, Smalling, Evans and Rafael all absent.
With Cleverley still sidelined and Fletcher putting in a 90 minute performance on Saturday I have gone for the partnership of Anderson and Carrick in the centre of midfield. There is a possibility that Giggs will be preferred to the Brazilian to reunite the most successful pairing of last season. With Nani and Young getting plenty of plaudits in the early weeks of the season, it will be an opportune time to allow Valencia and Park a run out in their preferred positions.
Up front, I would expect Danny Welbeck to be given a run out after his recent recovery from a hamstring injury with Berbatov alongside him. The likes of Owen, Macheda and Diouf will all be hoping for a place on the bench.
I would expect a comfortable victory for United with Basel playing neat football throughout but failing to trouble our threadbare back four. Goals will come from Anderson, Park and Welbeck as United look well placed to achieve the ten points that usually secures a passage into the knock-out phases in the New Year.
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