Manchester United v Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Old Trafford 09/17/2013 19.45 GMT Kick Off
United v Leverkusen in Moyes first Champions League match in charge at Old Trafford
09/17/2013 19.45 GMT
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David Moyes excursion into the Champions’ League group stages will begin tomorrow night (Tuesday) at Old Trafford against Bayer Leverkusen.
Interestingly, his opposite number in charge of the German side is Sami Hyypiä, the ex-Liverpool defender, who is now plying his trade as a manager in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen. Whilst people will point to David Moyes inexperience at this level of the competition, he has actually managed Everton when they reached the third qualifying round but went out against Villareal a few years ago.
He will also be helped by the fact that Leverkusen have not won in England in 8 attempts, having lost 6 and drawn just 2. That will not necessarily daunt Hyypiä though and he has had many years of experience playing in the Champions League when he was the central defender at Liverpool.
As regards team news, needless to say, both camps are keeping quiet about their likely line-ups, but we do know that Rafael did start training this morning at the Carrington Training Centre along with Wayne Rooney without his skull cap he had to wear in the weekend match against Crystal Palace. His injury seems now to have healed enough for him not to be inhibited by it anymore.
Whilst there will not be many changes to the United line-up from the game against Crystal Palace, I expect to see Rafael back at Right Back. The interesting decision for Moyes is whether and where to play Kagawa. United fans have been a little mystified as to why Moyes has not yet given the midfield maestro a start.
I expect Moyes to want a positive start to the campaign and he may start with Rooney and Van Persie up front. If that is the case, then he might have Kagawa just behind the front two, with Carrick and or Fellaini behind him. Whether he plays two wingers will depend how he deploys the midfield. Defensively he will most likely stick with Ferdinand and Vidic as the central defenders, although he does have Johnny Evans fit.
For Leverkusen, their danger man is Stefan Kiesling, who was the top scorer last season in the German Bundesliga with 25. Things may be difficult for Leverkusen though, as they have made massive changes to their squad from last season, with as many as 11 additions to the personnel and a similar number leaving. It is not easy to get that many new players to gel quickly although it has to be said that Hyypiä has done a good job so far and his club sit third in the Bundesliga.
I expect a cagey start to the match with neither side wanting to concede early on, with United opening up after about 10 minutes. I will be surprised if they do not win this match at home and I am expecting a comfortable 2-0 victory.