ISTANBUL, TURKEY - AUGUST 20: Hamit Altintop of Galatasaray AS in action during the turkish Super League match between Galatasaray AS and Kimpasa AS at Turk Telekom Arena on August 20, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
A new UEFA Champions League campaign begins on Wednesday night when Manchester United host Turkish champions Galatasaray at the 'Theatre of Dreams'. After reaching three finals in a four-year span between 2008-2011 -- including a triumphant conquering of Europe in 2008 -- Sir Alex Ferguson's side were humbled last season as they failed to advance from the group-stages. United faced Galatasaray four times in the early 1990s and in the two encounters at Old Trafford, there were ten combined goals. The turkish side have never defeated United nor have they ever achieved victory on English soil.
Form Guide: After dropping the season-opener to Everton at Goodison Park, United have responded by winning their next three matches versus Fulham, Southampton, and Wigan Athletic. In those three victories, they have managed to hammer home ten goals. The Red Devils currently sit second in the Premier League table.
Team News: Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Wayne Rooney are all out for this game and Ashley Young is a doubt. According to Fergie, Patrice Evra didn't start versus Wigan this past weekend because of a knock picked up while one international duty. The Frenchman's status is uncertain for this tie.
Form Guide: Galatasaray currently sit top of the table in the the Turkish Super Lig with ten points from four matches. Their twelve goals lead the league but they've also conceded six.
Team News: Captain Tomas Ujfalusi is out after ligament damage will force him out for the next four to five months. Sabri Sarioglu is unavailable as well.
United: David de Gea started the season's first two games and then Anders Lindegaard came in for the next two. It's a guess as to who will between the posts on Wednesday. In central-defense, two of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Jonny Evans will start -- the latter is possible to make his first start of the season if Fergie feels the need to rest either Vida or Rio. At left-back, it'll be either Evra or Alexander Buttner while at right-back, Rafael is expected. After being rested versus Wigan due to recent international duty, Antonio Valencia is anticipated to start on the right-side of attack and opposite of him on the left will likely be either Danny Welbeck or Nani. In central-midfield, any two of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, and Paul Scholes are expected to start while Anderson might be a dark-horse candidate as well. Robin van Persie in anticipated to start up front and in behind him will likely be Shinji Kagawa in the No.10 role.
Galatasaray: Nestor Muslera is the No.1 and ahead of him, Semih Kaya is one starter at center-back while either Cris or Dany Nounkeu will deputise for Ujfalusi at the other center-back spot. Hakan Balta will be on the left and Emmanuel Eboue will be on the right as Galatasaray's marauding full-backs. Felipe Melo will shield the back-four in a holding role while Selcuk Inan will have more freedom to go forward as the other central-midfielder. If manager Fatih Terin opts to pack his midfield, as opposed to his usually preferred 4-4-2, then either Aydyn Yilmaz or Nourredine Amrabat are possible as a third central-midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 shape. In the wide areas of midfield, anticipate Emre Colak on the left and Hamit Altintop on the right. Up front, all of Umut Bulut, Johan Elmander, and Burak Yilmaz are candidates to start.
* What shape will Galatasaray be deployed in?: Galatasaray boss Terim generally prefers a proactive and fluid 4-4-2 -- a system in which his wide attackers often come inside to combine with the central-midfielders and the strikers while the full-backs bomb forward in order to provide width to the attack. The build-up is generally through the middle of the pitch and the ball is swung out wide when these marauding full-backs get forward. This makes them a dangerous attacking side but this sort of aggressive approach can also leave them extremely vulnerable in central-midfield (especially versus three-man midfields) and in the space behind their full-backs when the opposition quickly counterattacks.
Terim could elect to ditch a striker in order to provide more stability to his side's shape by adding another central-midfielder in a 4-1-4-1. This might be a prudent move at Old Trafford and there's also the consideration that a draw would be a massive result for his side. The general consensus is that second place in the group is up for grabs (behind United... but we should know now that we shouldn't take group-stage advancement for granted) and an away point and goal differential could factor in heavily. Even if Galatasaray decide to play in this more conservative shape, they'll still look to build up through the middle and get their full-backs forward. They'll just be one less target in the box when crosses are sent in.
* Shinji Kagawa vs. Felipe Melo: Melo will be sitting deep shielding his defense while the more creative Inan will be looking to get forward in order join the attack. If a third central-midfielder isn't deployed by Terim, then that forces Melo to cover acres of space and that is a big ask. In last March's Kıtalar Arası Derbi versus Fenerbahce, the Brazilian holding-midfielder struggled to deal with the lateral movement of Fenerbahce's No.10. Assuming that Kagawa starts for United as a No.10, then surely the United coaching staff will have alerted him to this vulnerability by Melo. The Japanese international's movement is intelligent and he excels at popping in dangerous pockets of space. He's also very comfortable drifting wide if that's where the available space is. If United can continually feed Kagawa into these pockets of space -- and the space should be there in the wide areas when Galatasaray's full-backs are pushed forward -- then our No.10 should be a consistent source of chances created with through-balls played in for RvP working the channels and for Welbeck's diagonal runs.
* Contain Galatasaray's full-backs: Valencia has the deserved reputation of being willing to track back and help his full-back. This is perhaps why his partnership on the right with the aggressive Rafael is a good one. He's also been known to pin back Ashley Cole -- arguably the world's best left-back for the past decade -- and if he can do this against Balta, then that will nullify one of Galatasaray's chief attacking threats. On the opposite side, Welbeck is willing to track back but he often is caught in vulnerable positions when deployed as the left-sided attacker because he prefers to drift inside. Despite his reputation to some, Nani's willingness to defend has improved quite a bit in recent seasons but he isn't on the same level as Valencia. Whoever is deployed on the left, it will be key that they contain Eboue somewhat. If they're not able to consistently track back, then they need to be clinical in attack and punish Eboue's marauding runs. If United can force Galatasaray's full-backs to retreat, then they might be able to make the Turkish side predictable and narrow in attack.
KO: 7:45pm BST, 2:45pm EST | Old Trafford
Live TV: Sky Sports 4 (U.K.), FOX Soccer Plus (U.S.)
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Odds: Manchester United 2/7, Draw 9/2, Galatasaray 9/1