Otelul Galati v Man Utd: Team News, Key Battles & Predicted Score
Manchester United play Romanian Champions Otelul Galati tonight in both team’s third match of this year’s Champions League group stage. It will no doubt be a game United on paper should be winning and one that Sir Alex Ferguson will be demanding a win from too.
Very little was known about Galati until this year when due to the UEFA league coefficients, it was confirmed that the club no-one had heard of, had made it into the group-stages of the world’s most iconic club competition after winning the Romanian title last season.
The club managed by former Romanian star Dorinel Munteanu – who famously scored for Romania against England in Euro 2000 – have come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and are playing in the Champions League for the first time in their 47-year history.
After two games played in this season’s competition Galati are pointless having lost their opening game away to Basel before losing at home last time out to Benfica thanks to a second-half strike from the visitors midfielder Bruno Cesar. Galati’s domestic form has slipped and they currently sit 9th in the Romania league, partly due to their European exploits and extra expectation on them to win this season.
The game will be taking place in the new National Stadium in Bucharest, which will be hosting this year’s Europa League final due to the fact Galati’s home ground, the Stadion Otelul, did not make the ground-grading set by UEFA for European competitions. Despite only 7,000 spectators turning out for the Benfica match last month, it is expected that there will be a vast improvement on that figure, as it’s a game that understandably will have gathered alot of attention across Romania.
United will be looking to win the game and get their first win on the board in this season’s competition. A point away in Lisbon against Benfica was a good result but a 3-3 draw against Basel was far from acceptable. The players will want to go into the big Manchester derby this weekend against City on the back of a win tonight, regardless of what City does versus Villarreal.
United’s players will know that if they play well they should have more than enough in their bags yet alone locker to dispose of Galati. Saying that though Galati’s players will want to make life as hard as possible for our stars and what they might lack in quality they will more than make up for in spirit and in effort.
So what can we expect from tonight’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch?
Nemanja Vidic v Marius Pena
After making his comeback from injury for Serbia against Slovenia in his nation’s final Euro 2012 qualifier, United’s captain Nemanja Vidic will probably make his first appearance back in the heart of defence since hobbling off against West Brom on the opening day and he will boost the side greatly.
There are few defenders across Europe as brave and as good as our no.15 and it’s vital in many ways that he gets a runout before the big Manchester derby coming up this weekend. With Rio Ferdinand rested from making the trip to Bucharest more pressure will be on his shoulders. But he should be able to deal with Galati’s striker Marius Pena who scored the club’s first goal ever in the competition in their opening match-day defeat away to Basel.
Darren Fletcher v Gabriel Giurgiu
Definitely one of the biggest surprises of the season has been the form of Darren Fletcher. Scotland’s captain has made five appearances this season and despite not being at his best, has shown that he is still able enough to do a good, steady job for United when called upon who is far from ‘finished’ at the top-level to say the least.
Before his illness that set him back last season, he had become one of the first names on Sir Alex’s team-sheet and there’s no doubt his return to the side adds even more depth and experience. He will be relied on to start attacks and win the ball back proving cover for our attack-minded players. Gabriel Giurgiu will want to make him have a troublesome night though and has a good reputation for enjoying the odd tackle or two.
Wayne Rooney v Zoran Ljubinkovic
After not starting United’s draw with Liverpool on Saturday due to the ‘disappointment’ of being handed a three-match ban by UEFA for his red card for England versus Montenegro the week before last, you can guarantee that Wayne Rooney will be wanting to make football pay this month by getting back to doing what he does best – scoring goals.
Galati’s defence will know all about him and you can guarantee that they will try and frustrate him, not letting him settle on the ball and lead United’s attack. Better defences than Galati though have struggled against Rooney most notably Chelsea this season. Serbian defender Zoran Ljubinkovic will probably be given the task of trying to stop our star striker and will no doubt if his Serbian defenders are to go by will make his presence felt not that Rooney will be intimidated by anybody.
In terms of a prediction for the game tonight, as I stated earlier on in a predictions article at the start of the month, I believe United will win 2-0. I do think though that Galati will make life tough and I cannot see Galati losing the game heavily by 4/5-0.
They will want to prove themselves against United and this is a big-deal for Romanian football and its football fans. Some of Galati’s players will be aiming to impress with the whole of Europe watching them and will want to play well to perhaps get a move to a bigger league and further their careers.