rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » Champions League: Can fans lift battered Man United back to winning ways?

Champions League: Can fans lift battered Man United back to winning ways?

October 22, 2013 11:27 IST

Can fans inspire battered Man United back to winning ways?

     Next

Next

Manchester United may have to rely on increased noise levels rather than current form to make their home advantage count when they host Real Sociedad in Champions League Group A on Wednesday.

Old Trafford will be trying out a new 'singing section' at the stadium, with up to 1,400 of their loudest fans sitting in an area of the ground normally reserved for away supporters in order to improve the atmosphere because the acoustics are better there.

The move should lift spirits at Old Trafford, where a previous reputation as a rock-solid fortress has been shattered with the English champions managing just one win in the Premier League this season.

Their recent European form is little better with four defeats in their previous seven home games.

United are level on four points with group leaders Shakhtar Donetsk after two games before meeting Sociedad, who have no points and are enduring a start to their league season as shaky as that experienced by David Moyes's men.


Image: David Moyes the Manchester United manager speaks with Adnan Januzaj and Wayne Rooney
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

     Next

'We have to go out there and take advantage of the home game'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

"I feel that this is an important one for us," The United manager said on the club website (manutd.com).

"If we could win this one, it would give us a strong position in the group. We have to go out there and take advantage of the home game and try to get a result."

United made a flying start in the Champions League, beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 at home in their opener but then drew 1-1 in Donetsk.

Conceding in the 89th minute to draw 1-1 with Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday has done little to inspire confidence in the merits of home advantage before facing a Sociedad team who won away from home at the weekend.


Image: David Moyes
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Prev     Next

Sociedad marred with injury issues

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The 2-1 victory at Valencia was, however, Sociedad’s first domestic success since the opening day of the season as their first foray into Europe's elite club competition in a decade appears to have taken a toll on the San Sebastian-based side.

Their two Champions League matches, against Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen, ended in defeat and they remain a work in progress under inexperienced new coach Jagoba Arrasate.

They were boosted by the return from injury of captain Xabi Prieto as a second-half substitute at the Mestalla but Esteban Granero, on loan from English club Queens Park Rangers, remains sidelined after rupturing knee ligaments last month.


Image: Esteban Granero out with injury
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Prev     Next

Sociedad's only previous European outing in England does not bode well for them

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Arrasate said he hoped Saturday's victory, which ended the club's worst La Liga run in two years, could mark a turning point.

"I think we won the game with authority and that gives us a confidence boost for Wednesday," the 35-year-old told a news conference.

"Winning here does not guarantee a good performance (in Manchester) this week but it's better to go into the match after a win than a defeat."

Sociedad's only previous European outing in England does not bode well for them.

They lost 6-0 to United's arch-rivals Liverpool in the UEFA Cup second round in the 1975-76 season, when John Toshack, a future coach of the Basque side, scored the English club's opening goal.


Image: Head coach Jagoba Arrasate of Real Sociedad
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Prev     Next

Ribery, Goetze ready to pile on agony for Plzen

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Holders Bayern Munich are likely to have fit-again pair Franck Ribery and Mario Goetze available to heap more misery on Champions League Group D strugglers Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday.

An ankle injury kept playmaker Ribery out of Saturday's 4-1 win over Mainz 05, a victory that kept the Bavarians on top of the Bundesliga and still undefeated in three competitions.

"The injury was not that bad," Ribery told reporters. "I wanted to play against Mainz but the doctor said it would be too big a risk.

"I hope I can play in the Champions League," added the playmaker who has been in sparkling form for last season's Champions League-Bundesliga-German Cup treble winners.


Image: Bayern's Franck Ribery celebrates with David Alaba
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Prev     Next

'The more I play the fitter I get'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Goetze, who had been out injured since late August, played superbly after coming on as a substitute against Mainz.

"What is important for me is to play now for a long period of time," said the midfielder after setting up three of Bayern's four goals on Saturday.

"The game with Germany against Sweden (last week) and the game against Mainz did me a lot of good. The more I play the fitter I get."

Coach Pep Guardiola, however, will be without central defender Dante against Plzen who are rock bottom after losing both games in Group D.

The Brazilian cut his leg against Mainz and is expected to be out for around 10 days.


Image: Mario Gotze
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Prev     Next

'Bayern can punish our mistakes'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Plzen were beaten 3-0 by Manchester City before letting slip the chance to secure a draw at CSKA Moscow when goalkeeper Matus Kozacik allowed a back-pass from a defender to roll into the net as the Russian club won 3-2 earlier this month.

Coach Pavel Vrba said his team would have to improve their defending and eliminate the sort of mistakes that have crept in recently.

"It is not normal how we have played in defence lately," Vrba added.

"If we don't improve it will be very bad against Bayern because they will certainly punish our mistakes."


Image: Pavel Vrba, coach of FC Viktoria Plzen
Photographs: Michal Cizek/EuroFootball/Getty Images

Prev     More
Source:
© Copyright 2014 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.