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UEFA Champions' League

Man Utd v Lyon: Preview

Alain Perrin thinks Karim Benzema would be a big hit at OT today — a big hit for Lyon, that is. The young hotshot was more than a handful for our defence, manufacturing a goal out of nowhere in the first leg. So he is certainly one to watch out for. I certainly rate the mountain of a player.

But more crucial would be the influence of Juninho. The Brazilian is easily the most consistent free kick taker in the world and United’s players would be well advised to avoid conceding free kicks within his range. Paul Scholes, I am looking at you, especially. Lyon also have one of their better defenders, in Cris, returning after a seven month layoff. Hopefully Ronaldo and Co. run him ragged.

The good thing for us, though, is we don’t have to score to go through. Or, to put it better, Lyon will have to attack if they want to go through. And at home, that would suit our game just fine.

With Giggs certain to miss out, Sir Alex would definitely play Nani and Ronaldo on the wings. Rooney, rested in the weekend, will return and would most likely play up on his own. Hargreaves, Scholes and Anderson could form the centre three — but then, that could be anyone’s guess. I believe Fergie will persist with a 4-3-3 because protection of the back line will remain foremost in his mind.

Fergie has spoken about sentimentality recently in reference to Paul Scholes. According to the Gaffer, if United were to reach the finals of the Champions’ League, he will certainly pick the Ginger Prince. All this we know, is because of the veteran midfielder missing out in ’99 due to suspension.

Speaking of veterans, Giggs’ injury would have forced SAF’s hand in starting Nani. But the young winger has shown enough promise in recent weeks to guarantee a pacy front three that would suit our swift counter attacks. There were murmurs of discontent reported in the press about Nani’s fuss in letting Hargreaves take the free kick in the Fulham game. There were also some signs of disappointment at being replaced during the latter part of the second half. We hope it is his desire to impress that’s causing him to express his displeasure, and not a Ronaldo-esque sense of egomania. That said, it’s not bad to want to succeed, but it’s not particularly endearing either, to want to be at the centre of attention when you have a lot left to prove.

Right. Prediction time, and I say 2-0 to United. I am being a little optimistic here but I am in good spirits today.