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Preview/Match Thread: Valencia vs. Manchester United

Classifying it as a must-win match would be going a bit far, but tonight’s Champions League match at Valencia is definitely a must-not-lose for Manchester United.

After a goalless home draw against Rangers two weeks ago, United go to the Mestalla needing a positive result to avoid having a serious uphill climb to win Group C. A win woud give the high-flying home side six points from six, following their 4-0 thumping of Bursaspor in Turkey

Due to time constraints, this won’t be an in-depth preview with notes ‘n quotes, but here’s the latest selection news.

One common element in all four league matches in which United have allowed at least two goals is that Rio Ferdinand hasn’t been present in any of them, but the odds are in favor of Rio manning the middle from the outset tonight.

It isn’t the cure-all for United’s back line, but it is significant, as even though Valencia no longer have their deadly duo of Davids (or the injured Joaquin for tonight), there are more than a few threats.

All the better that he’s back, and the same can be said for Michael Carrick, who’s in contention for a role in the action after recovering from an Achilles injury. His availability is especially a bonus, with United’s midfield missing both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes due to injury.

Up front, we won’t be seeing Wayne Rooney tonight, whether it’s for mental or physical ailments or both, but will there be a place in the starting XI for Michael Owen? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so, after his double at Scunthorpe and equalizer at Bolton.

The question is not if United can get a positive result tonight, but if they will. Spain has traditionally been a trouble spot for United, and with the injury and defensive issues United are coming into this one with, it would appear more Spanish sorrow could be on the horizon.

However, this is the kind of occasion where United shouldn’t be counted out. Great teams rise to the occasion in unfavorable situations, with inspiration often coming from unexpected places.

A win could well be asking a bit much, given the locale, but with a doable double dip against Bursaspor coming up, a draw tonight will be a solid result for the big picture.

Prediction: 2-2.

This will be where it’s at for live match discussion, so you can expect to see me pop my head in here and there. Enjoy the match!