Galatasaray’s Champions League visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday could be a welcome distraction for Manchester United amid their disastrous Premier League start.
Under-fire manager Erik ten Hag appeared to be on course to turn the Red Devils’ fortunes around last week after United thrashed Crystal Palace 3-0 in the League Cup.
However, Roy Hodgson’s side paid another visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday and waltzed away 1-0 victors, condemning the three-time European champions to their worst top-flight start in 34 years.
Ten Hag direly needs a victory to stem the bleeding, with the Old Trafford faithful seemingly losing confidence in the Dutch manager’s ability to restore Man Utd to its former heights.
His first assignment is to bring the club’s European season back on track after United opened their first Champions League campaign in two years with a 4-3 defeat at Group A favourites Bayern Munich.
The upcoming clash against Galatasaray seems like a winnable game on paper, but the Red Devils cannot afford to underestimate their star-studded visitors.
Fresh off ending their four-year Super Lig title drought last season, the record-time Turkish champions assembled a formidable squad during a proactive transfer window over the summer.
Former Premier League stars Angelino Davinson Sanchez, Hakim Ziyech, Wilfried Zaha, Tete, and Tanguy Ndombele moved to Istanbul to join forces with Mauro Icardi, Kerem Demirbay and Dries Mertens.
Okan Buruk’s cast of household football names has gone from strength to strength in the 2023/24 early goings, taking this trip without a single loss from 14 matches in all competitions (W11, D3).
After piecing together a mind-blowing 31-match unbeaten competitive streak at Old Trafford, Man Utd have lost twice in their last three outings on home turf (W1).
Ten Hag must rebuild United’s home fortress, but with four first-team defenders ruled out for this fixture, fending off Galatasaray’s free-scoring frontline won’t be simple.
On top of that, the Red Devils have only registered one clean sheet across their last 13 Champions League games.
Man Utd’s porous backline means Ten Hag’s attackers will have to step up to the plate, yet they have netted one goal or fewer in three of their five competitive home matches in 2023/24.
Galatasaray’s phenomenal run this season suggests they could be in pole position to avenge back-to-back Champions League away defeats ‘to nil’ at the hands of United.
Buruk’s men haven’t lost away from home since April (W8, D2), but it means nothing, considering their last away win in the Champions League proper dates back to 2013 (D3, L14).
They failed to live up to the billing in their curtain-raising Group A fixture this term, drawing 2-2 at home against Copenhagen, courtesy of a quick-fire double beyond the 85th minute.
However, the reigning Turkish champions have gone on a tear since that stalemate, winning three consecutive domestic games, including a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph over Ankaragucu at the weekend.
Without Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez, Man Utd boss Ten Hag faces a selection nightmare at the back.
Sergio Reguilon needs to beat the clock to make himself available. Otherwise, summer arrival Sofyan Amrabat could be United’s makeshift left-back again.
Galatasaray will jet off to England without Kazimcan Karatas, while Ziyech’s minor fitness problem will make Buruk anxious ahead of this trip.
The remainder of his well-knit squad is ready to put a shift in at Old Trafford.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Sergio Reguilon; Casemiro, Sofyan Amrabat; Bruno Fernandes, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford; Rasmus Hojlund.
Galatasaray potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Fernando Muslera; Sacha Boey, Davinson Sanchez, Abdulkerim Bardakci, Angelino; Lucas Torreira, Kerem Demirbay; Wilfried Zaha, Dries Mertens, Kerem Akturkoglu; Mauro Icardi.
We Say: Manchester United 2-1 Galatasaray
Man Utd are keen to avoid another slip-up after a gut-wrenching loss to Palace, but this won’t be a walk in the park.
Galatasaray have the capacity to pull off an upset, although we believe Ten Hag’s troops will wrap this one up.
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