Tuesday, September 18, 2007

United v Sporting: No Hargreaves but Rooney could be back....

The latest injury news ahead of United's first game in this season's Champions League with Sporting Lisbon is that Owen Hargreaves looks set to the miss the match due to suffering a thigh-strain. The former Bayern Munich midfielder is on the mend but he hasn't trained over the last few days and so it's likely he will miss the first leg in Lisbon on Wednesday at the Estádio José Alvalade.

Better news to report regarding the return of Wayne Rooney because it is highly likely that he will start the game after recovering from a broken bone in his foot. Rooney has gone on record (no doubt following pressure from his boot sponsor Nike) saying that his football boots are not the problem. Yeah right.

Silvestre is definitely out after breaking down at Goodison Park on Saturday with a knee ligament injury so Gerard Pique and Jonny Evans are on standby to fill in at left-back, but more likely Patrice Evra will revert to his normal position which will leave at least one of the United youngsters on the bench for what is going to be a very difficult game.

Altough Sporting Lisbon have pretty much a new team, they will be looking to progress to the knockout stages of the competition for the first time. The home team will be encouraged by their excellent home record against English sides, because they haven't lost at home in five encounters.

The Red Devils have a very patchy record on their travels in Europe, in fact they have won just two of their last 14 away games in the Champions League. If United are are to reach this year's final on the 21st May 2008 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, then they will need to start winning against the likes of Sporting.

Sporting Lisbon have one of the best youth set-ups in Europe, the list of players who've gone on to play for some of Europe's top clubs is very impressive and Ronaldo and Nani will no doubt receive a warm welcome from the home fans.

Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Bento has several key players, across the back he has Anderson, Polga and Tonel. In midfield Miguel Veloso and Joao Moutino pulls the strings, while the goal threat comes from Marat Izmailov and Liedson.

Anyone who thinks game is going to be easy for United is deluding themselves, the Reds aren't firing on all cylinders currently, but they need to find their best form given the task that faces them in Lisbon and at Old Trafford on Sunday when Chelsea are the visitors. Bring them on.

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