United Begin European Odyssey

Image courtesy of skysports.com
Robin Van Persie scored against Crystal Palace on the weekend. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Manchester United  begins its 2013/14 UEFA Champions League campaign when it welcomes Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen  to Old Trafford on Wednesday morning (AEST). The Premier League champion has disappointed in Europe over the past two seasons following a golden run that saw them reach the final three times between 2008 and 2011, and new boss David Moyes will be determined to make a winning start in the competition.

With this fixture beginning a demanding run that sees the Red Devils play four games in the space of 11 days, United is sure to make full use of its squad and there is likely to be several changes to the side that defeated Crystal Palace 2-0  in the Premier League on Saturday. Marouane Fellaini could make his first start for the club after coming off the bench against Palace on the weekend, while Danny Welbeck, Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverly will also be in contention after a spell on the sidelines. Phil Jones will miss out as he continues to nurse an ankle injury sustained against Liverpool at the start of the month, while Rafael and Chris Smalling will both have to prove their fitness.

Leverkusen finished third in the Bundesliga last season and has started the new campaign well, with four wins from its opening five matches. Sami Hypia’s men tuned up for this clash with a 3-1  league win over Wolfsburg on Saturday in which Socceroo striker Robbie Kruse came off the bench. The 24 year-old joined the club from Fortuna Dusseldorf in July and is yet to start a match with Sidney Sam and Stefan Kiessling both bagging four goals already this season.

Manchester United has not lost to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, winning two of the four meetings between the sides and getting a draw  out of the others. United scored a 2-0 victory the last time the clubs met at Old Trafford, in November 2002.

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