It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve seen our team play despite United’s FA Cup at the weekend. Our second string failed to convince the manager that they should be included in tonight’s game against Marseille after putting in a drab performance against Crawley Town. We should expect big changes for the team that lines up tonight against the side currently 3rd, three points off the top, in Ligue 1.
Despite our poor displays on the road in the league this season, we’ve got a pretty good record in Europe. We beat our toughest team in the group, Valencia, thanks to a late Chicharito goal set up by Federico Macheda. We then beat Bursapor 3-0 with goals from Darren Fletcher, Gabriel Obertan and Bebe. Finally, our 1-0 victory over Rangers thanks to a Wayne Rooney penalty. Ok, so we haven’t set the world alight on the continent but we’ve done a job, and that’s all we should be asking for tonight.
Marseille had a mixed bag of results in the group stages, finishing 2nd behind Chelsea. At home, they lost to Spartak Moscow before beating both Chelsea and Žilina 1-0.
As far as our game goes tonight, it would be great to get a win, and that certainly should be what we’re aiming for, but a score draw would be more than good enough. We’re so strong at home that essentially tonight’s game should just be about setting us up for the return leg.
We’re reaching the point of the season where you bank on our experience, desire and self-confidence to carry us through. Plenty of teams have ability but most of our team have been there, done it and won it all and that is what we will be relying on. Tonight is start of the tough run which sees us play four away games on the bounce, including matches at Stamford Bridge and Anfield, but our managers says the players are ready.
“I know my team is ready for what they face,” Ferguson said. “Our attitude is simply to win them all. When games really mean something, big players respond. The experience comes out and then determination. You get the feeling when you reach this point of the Champions League that we are at the start of something proper, something exciting and grand.”
Injuries to Rio Ferdinand, Anderson and Giggs, as well as the injury Rafael picked up against Crawley, has allowed O’Shea and Gibson to get in the starting team.
Van Der Sar; O’Shea, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Nani, Gibson, Fletcher, Carrick, Rooney; Berbatov.
Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Henrandez, Scholes, Fabio, Rafael and Obertan.
– If you haven’t done so already, join RoM’s Picklive league and get 3 free games. The RoM reader with the most points will win £100. You can pick which three players you think will accumulate the most FF points in tonight’s game against Marseille and keep the window open whilst the game is going on. Which RoM reader wants £100? (If you invite your mates and they continue to play past their free trial, Picklive will put £5 in to your playing account)
– We will have a Liveblog running for the game.