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Manchester United vs CFR Cluj – Match preview

Preview 05 Dec 2012, 10:36 IST

Venue: Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester

Referee: D. Orsato

Kick-off: 1.15 AM (IST), Thursday, 6th of December

It’s all done and dusted for the United side in the group-stage who’d treat this game as an opportunity to blood their youngsters, while CFR Cluj will fight till the very end to survive in the competition. However, it is one of the most crucial ties for the Romanian side who could bring some joy for their travelling fans that have been rather dissatisfied with their league performance this season that has kept them stranded on sixth spot. A qualification to the knockouts that will also depend on Galatasaray’s evening means that, Paulo Sergio and his lads need every possible turn of fortunes to work in their favour and there’s no better stage to do it that the Theatre of Dreams.

Form guide

Manchester United (Last five CL games LWWWW)

United will have another Champions League game immune from any kind of pressure to deliver the result as Sir Alex is expected to make a host of changes to the side that played the weekend game at Madejski Stadium. With the qualification and the top spot in the bag with wins in their first four games, United will look to provide some game time to the likes of Powell, Buttner and the recovered Phil Jones. Several key players will be excluded from the squad for their game as the manager will be keeping an eye on the upcoming crucial derby on the other side of Manchester. United’s last Champions League game was in Turkey where Galatasaray edged through with a 1-0 win, but at home, United would be a far more difficult proposition for the Romanians.

CFR Cluj (Last five CL game WLDLW)

CFR Cluj, no matter how difficult the task is billed to be, will give their all for a win that can still pave a way to the knockout stages of the competition. Paulo Sergio’s side will have high hopes on Rui Pedro, who scored a clinical hat-trick on the last match-day against Braga and will again be the focal point of the Romanian attack. With Galatasaray winning their game against the youthful United side, there’s no reason why Cluj won’t believe in achieving the impossible tonight.

Squad sheets

Manchester United probable XI: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Buttner, Cleverley, Giggs, Powell, Young, Welbeck, Hernandez

Injured: Nani, Kagawa, Anderson, Vidic

CFR Cluj probable XI: Felgueiras, Pinto, Maftei, Cadu, Sepsi, Bastos, Camora, Muresan, Sougou, Pedro, Kapetanos

Injured: Sare, Ronny


- The Romanians have committed 89 fouls in the competition so far this campaign, more than any other side.

- Manchester United have conceded the first goal in 14 of their 22 games this season across all competitions.

- Manchester United have averaged 59.6% possession in the Champions League this season, while Cluj have put up 30.6% in their five group-stage games.

- United have been the second-best passing team in the tournament with an accuracy of 89.6%, while their Romanian opponents boasts 64.8% – the worst figures in the top 32.

What to expect

At home, United will always be a tough nut to crack for the away side and the fresh defensive lineup should do enough to keep a clean sheet for United. Also, one can expect a couple of goals from the prolific United attack and another promising game for young Nick Powell in his preferred play-making role.

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