Date:Monday March 31 2008
As Fergie has gone out of his way to prove he can do even rotation better than Rafa Benitez, it's become an almost impossible task to predict our starting eleven for any given game. I'll give it a try though.
Roma, as it happens, play a very similar style - in fact, I think that their 4-2-3-1 inspired Fergie and Queiroz to create the fluid, flexible attacking unit that's terrorising the Premiership right now.
In order to stifle their quick, skilled, mobile midfielders, Fergie will surely field three central mids. With Carrick in blazing form, he can't be left out, Hargreaves has been signed for these games I think and Anderson proved he can do the job on the big stages.
Therefore all three should start, relegating Paul Scholes onto the bench which is perhaps all the more fortunate as he was dismissed in this fixture a year ago. Starting him and Giggs with only one holding midfielder would be an unaffordable luxury now.
Having said that, I think Giggs will start. He will be part of that revolving front three with Rooney and Ronaldo. Nani's absence has strengthened his claim to be in the starting eleven, despite coming off in the dying seconds of the Villa game with a minor injury.
Tevez will probably be back on the bench though I would start him in the place of Giggs as we need pace to stretch Roma's sometimes fragile backline. It's possible Fergie will also come to this conclusion but it seems more probable that he will opt for Giggs' experience.
The defense, of course, picks itself. On the bench we'll have Kuszczak, O'Shea, Scholes, Park, Pique, Tevez and Eagles available.
The exact formation is hard to guess. I described Roma's tactics as 4-2-3-1 but you could go as far as claiming it's in fact a 4-6-0. United's is similar but I think this time it will be closer to a 4-3-3 than anything else, as that could help to negate the influence of Aquilani and De Rossi. It's a boost that they probably won't start in tandem at the holding midfield positions as Aquilani will be needed behind the lone striker (Vucinic) to do the job of the suspended Simone Perrotta.
United (probable): Van der Sar - Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra - Hargreaves, Anderson, Carrick - Ronaldo, Rooney, Giggs.
Roma (probable): Doni - Cicinho, Juan, Mexes, Cassetti - De Rossi, Pizarro - Mancini, Aquilani, Taddei - Vucinic
Date:Monday March 31 2008
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