AS Roma v Manchester United
This is an intriguing battle though Manchester United will be understaffed for the first leg. Park Ji-Sung is out of the match with a knee injury, captain and right-back Gary Neville is suffering from an ankle sprain, centre-back Nemanja Vidic broke his collar bone in this past weekend’s 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers and centre-back Mikael Silvestre has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Vidic is unlikely to feature in the return leg either. Also amongst the injured are Louis Saha and Darren Fletcher. If I were running the show, I would pair Heinze and Ferdinand in central defence with Wes Brown at right-back and Patrice Evra on the left. However, Ferguson may opt for Brown and Ferdinand in the centre which would mean John O’Shea will deputize at right-back. I think they might deviate from their preferred 4-4-2 just to keep things tight in midfield.
Manchester United Probable Starting XI (4-4-2):
van der Sar
O’Shea Ferdinand Brown Evra
Ronaldo Scholes Carrick Giggs
AS Roma have had a solid season and are coming off a 1-1 draw with AC Milan. They currently sit second in Serie A and this is the furthest they have ever progressed in the Champions League. Manager Luciano Spalletti has been pretty faithful to the 4-2-3-1 system though he is flexible and shift the side to a 4-3-3 depending on the situation. At home, I think they will go 4-3-3 and give United a run, especially considering their injury problems at the back.
AS Roma Probable Starting XI (4-3-3):
Cassetti Tonetto Mexes Chivu
De Rossi Pizarro Perrotta
Taddei Mancini Totti
United are ripe for the picking in the match and Roma must go for the jugular. However, they will need to remain patient and not get caught committing too many bodies forward or they will get struck on the counter-attack by the pace of Giggs, Rooney and Ronaldo. If Roma can build a sufficient lead, the return leg at Old Trafford could turn into a real case of trench warfare.
Chelsea v Valencia
Chelsea have some key personnel out of action though Joe Cole has been included in the squad after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot. He will likely be named as a substitute and not a starter. Wayne Bridge is also included in the squad after recovering from knee surgery, but Arjen Robben is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Doubts about José Mourinho’s future