Preview: Manchester United ready to challenge Juventus as Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford…

Manchester United -v- Juventus

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 23 October 2018; KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)

Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening with Italian champions Juventus returning to Old Trafford. It will also be the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Real Madrid for the Italian club in the summer. After the 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Saturday, United will be seeking to get back to winning ways, especially after Ross Barkley’s effort took the victory away from them at Stamford Bridge.

United’s season has not been the best, but it has not been the worst either. They are the only English club in the Champions League to have four points after two matches, which is no great feat after two matches, based on who United have played; Young Boys (3-0) and Valencia (0-0). After the victory over Young Boys, United went four matches without a win, losing 3-1 to West Ham United, drawing against Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-1), Derby County (2-2), a penalty defeat, and Valencia (0-0).

The match ahead of the international break, at home to Newcastle United, saw United concede two quick goals in the first half, ended that half 2-0 down. However, goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Alexis Sanchez turned this into a 3-2 victory. A positive result against Chelsea followed with Martial scoring both goal at Stamford Bridge. With Juventus coming to the Theatre of Dreams, it does not make anything easier for United. A win will be a great result, a draw would not be the end of the world. A defeat would.

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Pre-Match Thoughts: Cristiano Ronaldo’s homecoming and a big European club in the UEFA Champions League is what Old Trafford is all about…

United have become more of a team in the last two matches then they were in the matches played previous to those. The first half has not been great against both Newcastle and Chelsea, but the second half showing is something to be positive about. United just need to play that way for 90 minutes, as opposed to 45, which may come in the coming weeks and months but needs to come at some point.

United will be buzzing to play big matches at Old Trafford like this, entertaining European elite clubs at the Theatre of Dreams is what it is all about. Having Ronaldo back at the club, albeit just for one night, will be spectacular. Ronaldo has played at Old Trafford once since leaving the club in the summer of 2009, against David Moyes’ side in the Champions League in 2013, a 2-1 defeat, 3-2 on aggregate, which saw United exit the competition. United also played Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in 2017.

It will be a great evening of football. United will want to win the match, so will Juventus. It will be a double-header against the Italian side, with the next match being played on Wednesday 7 November 2018. United and Juventus have played each other 12 times in the history of both clubs, both winning five matches, drawing the other two. United have won the last three matches played; 3-2 in 1999, 2-1 and 3-0 in 2003. Fifteen years is a long time though, it will not be an easy game for either side.

Team News: Alexis Sanchez out of contention for Juventus clash; Antonio Valencia involved in training on Monday morning…

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Alexis Sanchez is not in contention to play against Juventus after coming on as a substitute against Chelsea on Saturday. It has been suggested that the Chilean ‘pulled a groin muscle’ against the London club. Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay have all been out of action, some were injured during the international break, some were out before then, none of the players were involved in training on Monday morning.

Mourinho did confirm that the players the media saw in action were the players he has available for the clash with Juventus. Tom Sang, Zak Dearnley and Tahith Chong were all involved in the first team training session, which could mean that some involvement may be seen in the clash on Tuesday evening. Antonio Valencia could be involved again for United. Moises Kean joined the Juventus squad, however, Emre Can, Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic were absent. Cristiano Ronaldo will make his Manchester return.

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Predicted Starting XI: Romelu Lukaku to be benched ahead of Juventus clash with other players seemingly having more to give right now?

United will need to find a way to get the better of Juventus at the Theatre of Dreams. With Romelu Lukaku leading the line, that is surely not going to happen. Despite his form for Belgium, playing for United seems to be a different kettle of fish for the striker. Against Chelsea, he seemed more of a hindrance than a help. Having Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial, of both, leading the line might be the better option, giving the Belgian some rest ahead of the Everton clash this weekend.

Juan Mata deserves to be involved after his performance against Chelsea on Saturday. Ander Herrera could be fit to start along with Nemanja Matic, which would see a strong United midfield for the match with former Juventus player Paul Pogba seemingly being one of the first names on the team sheet. The defence is the important factor for United. Chris Smalling will most likely be involved, but will it be Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof that partners him? The Ivorian is the best option right now.

Match Prediction: Manchester United to nick it against Juventus; a draw would be a good result for both teams…

Jose Mourinho will be seeking a win from this game. It is achievable. Having Cristiano Ronaldo in the team will be a negative factor for United, but it is not impossible to stop him. A win will see United on seven points in the Champions League this season, after three matches, which is a great start. It will also see the positivity, which started after the Newcastle victory continue, even after being robbed of a victory at Stamford Bridge, a draw would have been taken by many before the match.

It is going to be a close match. I reckon there could be one goal in it. Juventus are unbeaten in Serie A and the Champions League this season but have not ripped teams apart. Some suggest that United could fall foul of this but in recent weeks, which the momentum which has been building, there seems to be more positivity than there once was. United are not guaranteed to win all their games, neither are Juventus. This is a clash that will be settled on the night. A draw would be a good result for both teams. United could nick it.

Manchester United 2-1 Juventus

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