Manchester United will kick off their 2011-12 Champions League campaign with a home game against an old enemy in Galatasaray.
United had a notorious encounter with the Turkish club in 1993, with an incredible 3-3 draw at Old Trafford preceding an infamous reception in Istanbul which stifled the Red Devils into a 0-0 draw which saw them make a shock early exit. That game was one of the catalysts for provoking the changes necessary to transform United into a club that could compete at the highest level in Europe, and while Ferguson said he would not be going back to Turkey, he could not have imagined that he would be doing so again almost twenty years later.
United's team selection is likely to be highly influenced by their weekend fixture, a difficult away trip to Anfield, but the resting of Robin Van Persie, Antonio Valencia, Patrice Evra and Shinji Kagawa in the 4-0 victory over Wigan ensures that their key players should be fresh for the two games. United will probably rest players again tonight, with their key players likely to either start on the bench or be replaced before too long, but there will be no excuse for not picking up three points here - neglecting such fixtures cost United dearly last season as they exited the Champions League at the group stage, and Ferguson has vowed not to make the same mistake again. The United boss talked up the abilities of Van Persie and Kagawa in European fixtures, so both should be in his plans. Patrice Evra is also expected to return at full-back, while Darren Fletcher could cameo as he comes back from a lengthy illness.
Galatasaray, of course, are likely to field a full-strength team, although defenders Tom Ujfalusi and Sabri Sarioglu will be unavailable through injury. A host of former Premier League stalwarts are among Galatasaray's squad, with Johan Elmander and Emanuel Eboue both likely to start, and former Liverpool duo Albert Riera and Milan Baros also in the squad. The dangerman will undoubtedly be striker Umut Bulut, who has had a remarkable start to the season with five goals in four games.
Despite that, United will be expected to gain a comfortable victory here, and even with a slightly weakened team should do so with ease. If they can do so without picking up any additional injuries and whilst keeping some players fresh for that encounter at Anfield, then Ferguson will be delighted.
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
TV: FOX Soccer Plus (U.S.), Sky Sports 4 (U.K.), Sportsnet World (Canada)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)
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