Manchester United are already through to the Champions League knockout stages but could have a big say in who joins them there when they travel to Turkey to face Galatasaray on Tuesday (7.45pm GMT, live on Sky Sports).
United lead the group on 12 points having won all four of their matches to date. Galatasaray and CFR Cluj are tied on four points, while Sporting Braga are a point further back on three.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are already assured of finishing in top spot and therefore have very little to play for in their two remaining group stage matches – the second of which is at home to CFR Cluj. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see what approach the United manager takes on Tuesday.
Ferguson tends to rotate on such a regular basis these days that it can be hard to ascertain what exactly his strongest line-up is. He did not appear to intentionally weaken the United eleven that fell to a surprising 1-0 defeat away to Norwich on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney was absent through illness but is expected to be ready to face Galatasaray, with Ferguson likely keen to give the England international a run out to help him regain match fitness. Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea should presumably also be in contention after missing out against Norwich due to a painful wisdom tooth.
Johnny Evans and Phil Jones also both look likely to be in the running for minutes after recovering sufficiently from their respective injuries to take part in training.
United have some relatively easy Premier League fixtures in the coming weeks, the first of which sees them host bottom of the table Queen’s Park Rangers next Saturday, so have no particular need to rest a large chunk of their usual starters. It is therefore likely to be a fairly strong eleven that takes to the pitch at the Turk Telekom Arena on Tuesday.
There they will meet a Galatasaray side desperate to get three points that would give them a fighting chance of joining United in the last 16, a prospect that had looked highly unlikely at the halfway point of the group stage.
Fatih Terim’s men were unfortunate in their 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford that opened the group stage, hitting the post through Nordin Amrabat and having numerous near misses throughout the course of a match. That promising performance was, however, followed by two disappointments at home: a 2-0 loss to Braga and a 1-1 draw with Cluj.
Hope was restored by an excellent 3-1 win away in Cluj in the most recent round of matches, a result that moved Galatasaray into joint second in the group. Depending on the result of Braga’s trip to Cluj, victory over United on Tuesday may leave Galatasaray requiring just a draw from their trip to Braga in the final round of matches to progress.
If they are to do so, then Burat Yilmaz is the man most likely to score the goals that will take them there. The 27-year-old striker scored all three goals in that win over Cluj and has scored 11 times in 15 appearances in all competitions since joining from Trabzonspor in the summer. Umut Bulut has also been amongst the goals domestically (nine in 11 appearances), but it yet to score in the Champions League.
Like United, Galatasaray have relied heavily on their scoring prowess in their domestic league, scoring 27 goals in 12 matches (2.25 per match), whilst conceding 17 (1.42 per match). The reigning Turkish champions are again right up there at the sharp end of the league table and will certainly be hopeful of finding the net against a Utd defence that has been far from solid this season.
Man Utd have conceded 17 goals in 12 domestic matches, but have also conceded at least once in each of their three Champions League matches following the 1-0 win over Galatasaray. Braga even raced into a two-goal lead in Portugal before United turned things around to win 3-2 and they could again struggle to keep a clean sheet here.
Galatasaray v Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
This match is a difficult one to call as it is hard to know how seriously United will take it in light of already having secured their place in the knockout stages. Defensive problems mean they always give opponents a chance, but they usually have enough firepower to bring themselves back into contention by the time the final whistle blows.
- If United do lose it is highly unlikely to be by a large margin so we would suggest betting on Manchester United +1 on the Asian Handicap @ 2/5 with Bet365 or Pinnacle. If they win or draw you win and if they only lose by one goal you get your money back
- With Yilmaz in excellent form and United struggling defensively, we would also suggest backing Burak Yilmaz to score at anytime @ best odds of 13/8 with Bet365 or Blue Square.