Old Trafford, Manchester
December 10, 2013; 19:45 BST
Manchester United host Shakhtar Donetsk at the Old Trafford tomorrow in their last group stage fixture of this Champions League campaign. The reverse fixture ended in a 1-1 draw at the Donbass Arena as Taison cancelled out Danny Welbeck’s opener.
Manchester United have already qualified through to the next round, but will need at least a draw to confirm their place at the top of the table. Shakhtar on the other hand will require a win to confirm their place in the next round – any other result and they will have to depend on the outcome of the fixture between Real Sociedad and Bayer Leverkusen.
Team news and tactics
Manchester United have had a disappointing domestic campaign so far under their new manager David Moyes and are struggling to keep up with the teams at the top. The reigning Premier League champions are currently ninth in the league table and are already 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal. They will now require a significant change in their recent form even to fight for a place in the top four this season. They are currently on a four match winless streak in the league and have lost their last two games at home to Everton and Newcastle United. Yohan Cabaye’s goal in the second half pushed them to their third home defeat of the season in the league.
David Moyes has had a contrasting start to his managerial career at United in the Champions League though. Manchester United are still unbeaten in Europe this season and booked their place in the next round with wonderful win over Bayer Leverkusen in their last Champions League fixture. They arguably their best performance in Germany in the last game as Valencia, Evans, Smalling and Nani got on the score-sheet. But United will need a positive result against Shakhtar in order to confirm their place at the top of the table in this group, which will possibly land them an easier fixture in the next round.
David Moyes has a lot of injury concerns to contain with ahead of this fixture. Marouane Fellaini has joined the likes of Carrick and Fletcher on the side-lines with a back injury. There are also doubts about the fitness of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling. The trio missed Monday’s training session at Aon training complex. Shinji Kagawa, who missed the 0-1 defeat against Newcastle United, is expected to recover in time for this game and Moyes has confirmed that he has trained with the team and is likely to be in contention for a place in the starting line-up.
The former Everton boss is likely to rotate his squad for this game. He could make as many as seven changes to the side he fielded against Newcastle United at the weekend, although some of them are forced by injuries. Alexander Buttner will replace Patrice Evra at the left back, while Ferdinand will partner Evans at the center of the defence. Anderson could make a rare start alongside Jones, although Moyes might also prefer Giggs in that role. Valencia will start on the right wing, while Young could start on the left. Robin van Persie is likely to be rested, while Wayne Rooney, who missed the last game due to suspension, will start in attack. Danny Welbeck, who was an unused substitute against Newcastle, could lead the line upfront.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Buttner; Jones, Anderson; Valencia, Rooney, Young; Welbeck
Shakhtar are currently leading their domestic points table with a five point advantage over Dynamo Kiev. The made a great start to their campaign and won the opening six matches of this season in the league. After a slight hiccup at the end of August and September, in a period where they won just one of their five games, Mircea Lucescu’s men have once again taken control of the league with some fine performances. In fact they are currently on a five match winning streak in all competitions and are coming into this game on the back of a 1-0 victory over Chornomorets O as Luiz Adriano scored the winner.
Shakhtar made a bright start to their Champions League campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory against Real Sociedad away from home, but they have failed to win against any other side in the group other Sociedad. Bayer Leverkusen’s big defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the last game, along with their comfortable 4-0 win over Real Sociedad at home has provided them with a good opportunity to qualify into the next round. But they will have to do it the hard way by getting a positive result against United away from home. The Red Devils’ poor home form this season, along with their good run of results off late, will provide them with a glimmer of hope.
Mircea Lucescu doesn’t have any injury concern ahead of this game and has the full squad to choose from, except Wellington Nem, who is ineligible to participate in the Champions League. He is expected to make two changes to the side that he fielded against Real Sociedad in the last game. Experienced midfielder Tomás Hübschman will partner Fernando in front of the defence, in place of Taras Stepanenko and Fred.
Luiz Adriano has been in fine form Shakhtar and will once again be the primary goal threat with three other quick and talented Brazilians supporting him in attack. They have also been tight at the back and have managed to keep six clean-sheets in their last eight matches in all competitions. They will need that organisation at the back against an United side who have scored 11 goals in the group stages so far.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Pyatov (GK); Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Hübschman, Fernando; Costa, Teixeira, Bernard; Adriano
Players to watch-out for: Alexander Buttner (Manchester United); Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk