Manchester United head to Sweden on Saturday to face Turkish giants Galatasaray in the final game of the Reds somewhat farcical pre-season tour. The match up in Gothenburg wasn’t in Jose Mourinho’s original pre-season plans, however, was added to the fixture list just days before United announced the capture of Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 34-year-old is set to make his debut for the Reds in his native Sweden after he was given an extended break after the European Championships. Ibrahimovic was one of a number of stars who returned to training this week along with the likes of Anthony Martial, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Marouane Fellaini.
The game in Scandinavia will be United’s third pre-season match following the 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic and the 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund last week in Shanghai. The Turkish side has been involved in four pre-season friendlies prior to the game against Mourinho’s men, winning two and drawing two. The 20-time Turkish league winners had a season very similar to that of United’s last term. They finished 6th in the Super Lig, a whopping 28 points behind winners Besiktas however lifted the Turkish Cup beating rivals Fenerbahce.
Manager – Jan Olde Riekerink
Jan Olde Riekerink became the third manager of Galatasaray’s 2015/16 campaign in March this year following unsuccessful spells for Hamza Hamzaoglu and Mustafa Denizli. Born in Hengelo, Holland, Riekerink played for three Dutch teams (Sparta Rotterdam, FC Dordrecht, and Telstar) over a seven-year period until the age of 30. He spent seven years as a coach at Ajax until 2002 before taking his first managerial job at Belgian side Gent. The Dutchman has also had a string of background roles, as the assistant manager at FC Porto and Metalurh Donetsk as well as the head of youth development at Ajax before taking the reins at Galatasaray earlier this year, guiding them to a sixth-placed finish and a Turkish Cup triumph.
FC Thun 1-1 Galatasaray
FC Zurich 3-0 Galatasaray
Young Boys 1-1 Galatasaray
AGF 1-3 Galatasaray
Predicted Starting XI
Key Player: Wesley Sneijder
It seems a running joke linking Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United year after year however in the latter years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford, it was more than just a made-up transfer rumour, even the player in question believed he would end up at the Theatre of Dreams. “I just felt that it was close, yes [I thought I was going],” he said speaking in 2011. He eventually joined Galatasaray in 2013 from Italian giants Inter Milan, where he had worked under United’s current manager Jose Mourinho. Sneijder remains the Turkish side’s biggest name alongside former Arsenal man Lukas Podolski.
The Reds looked deprived of match fitness against Borussia Dortmund and that showed in the 4-1 scoreline. United’s opponents on Saturday have four pre-season games under their belts as opposed to the Reds two. Match sharpness could be a factor in the overall scoreline however pre-season is more about getting minutes on the board rather than the result. Mourinho’s men only have Wayne Rooney’s testimonial on Wednesday evening and the Community Shield against Leicester City at Wembley next Sunday before the curtain raiser of the Premier League season against Bournemouth in two weekends time.
Manchester United 2-1 Galatasaray