Manchester United will be looking to carry on their revival of Champions League success with a second straight win against CFR Cluj. An uninspiring win against Galatasay saw The Red Devils go second in the group, behind CFR Cluj on just goal difference.
Last season was a nightmare experience in Europe for Manchester United. Having been knocked out both of Europe's competitions, Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt ensure that his side progress to the knockout stages – at least!
His side beat Turkish Champions Galatasary in their first game. A Michael Carrick goal seperated the two sides – as United held on for a 1-0 result. This result would of eased the nerves of a few young players. It will be now up to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Robin Van Persie to maintain the momentum when they meet CFR Cluj.
The Romanian side pulled of a shock result against Portugese side Braga. Rafael Bastos – a former Braga player, scored a brace against his old side as Cluj earned their way to top of Group H. This will be only the second time CFR Cluj have entered The Champions League – their first time coming in the 08/09 season. A win over Italian giants Roma, as well as a draw against Chelsea FC saw Cluj make an impressive name for themselves in European Football.
Manchester United Last 5 Results: W – W – W – W - L
Despite losing to a well organised Everton side on the opening day of the season – Manchester United have not looked back since. Four wins followed with their next four games – however a surprise defeat to Tottenham Hotspur saw Manchester United lose out 3-2. Manchester United will be eager to regain the momentum needed to have a successful campgain, and with last seasons Champions League nightmare on their minds, they will look to get as maximum points from the opening games to steer them to qualificaion.
United have had a turbulent season so far. Having scored 14 goals in the league so far – United have also conceded 10 goals. David De Gea has come under some scrutiny this season due to his performance at Fulham. Yet with starts against Galatasary as well as a decent performance in The League Cup against Newcastle, United's No.1 will look to improve his confidence away at CFR Cluj.
Robin Van Persie took no time to settle in at United. The Dutchman has already scored 5 goals for United in 5 starts. Much of Uniteds attacking play is dependant on Van Persie – and the Dutchman is still looking for his first goal in Europe for The Red Devils.
CFR Cluj Last 5 Results: W – W – L – W - W
The Romanian Champions have also had a good start to their season. In contrast to Manchester United – Cluj are scoring few but conceding even less. With 3 clean sheets in their last 5 games.
However, a flurry of goals for CFR Cluj last weekend saw them come out 5-1 winners agianst Gloria Bistrita.
Previously, with just 6 goals in their last 4 games, Cluj will be looking to cause an upset against United. With there recent defensive record – one goal may be enough for The Romanian Champions, as they will rely on their defence to shut out Manchester United.
A win in their opening Champions League game against Portuguese side Braga has ensured that Cluj have started their campaign in the right manner – now at home to Manchester United, Cluj will have to maintain that defensive discipline to keep the likes of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Luis Nani at bay.
Player To Watch: Manchester United – Wayne Rooney
Having returned at Newcastle in the 2-1 League Cup victory after a four week absensce and a 45 minute cameo against Tottenham Hotspur - Rooney will be as eager as ever to start his own Champions League campaign.
Rooney played at Goodison Park on the opening day of the season, a lacklustre performance saw him drop to the bench for the next game against Fulham. A freak accident courtesty of Hugo Rodellaga's boots saw Rooney with a thick gash down his thigh. Now back from a 4 week recovery – Rooney will be eager to pair up with new striker partner Robin Van Persie for the first time this season.
A 76 minute cameo at The Sports Direct Arena and 45 minutes at White Hart Lane for Rooney wouldn't of been enough. Undoubtedly still United's main man, Sir Alex Ferguson will be just as desperate to get Rooney back on the pitch as much as the striker himself is.
Player To Watch: CFR Cluj – Rafael Bastos
Not a lot can be said for the Romanian side – having only entered Europe's Elite competition for the second time in their history. However, former Braga player Rafael Bastos made quite a scene upon his return to his former side.
Bastos scored two goals in Cluj's first game in The Champions League this season – as well as scoring three goals in The Romanian League already. Seen as the main attacking threat for the Romanian side – if Bastos could manage to score against English giants Manchester United, Cluj will be sure to rely on their solid defence which has seen them concede so little goals this season, to see out the game.
Probable Line Ups: Manchester United -
David De Gea – Rafael – Rio Ferdinand – Johnny Evans – Patrice Evra – Darren Fletcher – Shinji Kagawa – Anderson – Luis Nani – Robin Van Persie – Wayne Rooney
Probable Line Ups: CFR Cluj -
Felguerias – Pinto – Cadu – Rada – Sepsi – Muresan – Alberto – Sougou – Bastos – Camora – Kapetanos
Predicted Score: 0-2
I see Manchester United winning Tuesday night. Although they will still be cautious in Europe – they will have too much class for The Romanian side. Yet, with Cluj's defence in good form, do not expect United to dominate the tie.
Wayne Rooney & Robin Van Persie will both be as eager to score their first European goal this season, and if Ferguson finally gets his ideal striking duo firing on all cylinders – expect United to win.