The Manchester United team departed for France yesterday morning with a slightly depleted squad after it was announced that all five of Anderson, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Michael Owen would not go to Marseille for the Champions League game tonight.
Although all the injured players will be missed, the biggest blow to United is the news that Anderson has been ruled out for two months. It is yet another unfortunate setback for the Brazilian midfield player who has failed to fully establish himself after an impressive season two years ago. The announcement stated that it was a knee injury again, which is a major concern as he ruptured his left cruciate knee ligaments early last year and was side lined for six months.
The game against Marseille should be a tricky one; the Stade Velodrome holds 60,000 fans and it will be full to capacity for tonight’s last-16 match up. The current manager Didier Deschamps has enjoyed a very positive start to his managerial career after a successful playing career and his side will present United with problems. L’OM currently sit in third place in Ligue 1 and have an excellent home record having only lost one in the league and another in the Champions League this season.
Whilst Marseille should not be underestimated, it should not be forgotten that United have won nine of their last ten away games in this competition and have only lost twice against French opposition. The absentees will certainly be missed but there is more than enough strength in depth to come through this game and finish the job at Old Trafford in a fortnight.
One player who will be keen to impress in Anderson’s absence will be Michael Carrick. Since his £14 million move from Tottenham in 2006 he has not quite turned into the player people had expected and he still does not contribute enough for someone with such ability. In the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2009 he was shown up against Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi and has not quite recovered. He is however very much looking forward to the game and he told the press as such in an interview this week: “The
With all the injuries and the loss of Ferdinand at the back it is likely Sir Alex Ferguson will line up with his usual European formation of 4-5-1. It will interesting to see if Dimitar Berbatov gets a starting place as Wayne Rooney often plays as the lone front man in away games. It certainly provides much more of a defensive option but Ferguson will be aware that an away goal will put them in the driving seat for the game at Old Trafford.
Likely line-up: Van der Sar; Rafael, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Rooney; Berbatov