Game : Villareal vs Manchester United
Competition : UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Venue : Estadio El Madrigal, Villareal, Spain
Date : 25 November, 2008, Tuesday
Kick off : 19.45 GMT
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United visit Villareal this Tuesday in a Group E Champions League tie that will, in all probability, decide the winner of this group.
A draw will confirm Manchester United’s progress to the next round. Both United and Villareal have the same number of points- 8, but United lead the group thanks to their superior goal difference. Should United lose, Aalborg’s failure to beat Celtic will see the defending champions through. Star striker Dimitar Berbatov is out with an hamstring injury, while veteran skipper Gary Neville has not recovered from the groin injury sustained in the League Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers. However Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to be fit despite limping off in the weekend goalless stalemate against Aston Villa. Paul Scholes, Wes Brown and Owen Hargreaves continue to remain absentees.
Villareal stumbled in the La Liga on Saturday, slumping to a 0-3 home loss to Valladoid. The result also broke the Yellow Submarines’ 17 game unbeaten run. If United are without Berbatov, Villareal are also without top scorer Joseba Llorente, who is sidelined with a leg muscle injury. In the absence of Llorente, Guillermo Franco will support former United forward Giuseppe Rossi upfront. Turkish striker Nihat and Uruguyuan international Diego Godin are also unavailable. In their last Champions League game, Villareal drew 2-2 at Aalborg, with the Danish side coming back from one goal down twice in the game. In their last five competitive fixtures, Villareal have drawn 3, lost one and drawn one.
The last three games between United and Villareal have not produced a goal. I expect this one to produce a couple of goals, but the result should still remain the same. United have won just once on Spanish soil in 17 games, and Villareal have never lost an European game at El Madrigal. 1-1, with Carlos Tevez and Giuseppe Rossi scoring.