Soccer

Man United Can Eliminate Rangers from Champions League

| by Ian Palmer

It’s always a huge game when an English Premier League side takes on a Scottish Premier League club, and a Manchester United vs. Glasgow Rangers matchup is one of the biggest you can get. However, the only times they get to face each other is in friendlies or European Cup competitions.

Their matchup on Nov. 24 at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow is a Group C game in the European Champions League. It’s a huge contest for both clubs because United can progress to the next stage of the competition with just one more point and Rangers could be out of it if they lose -- and Valencia beats Bursaspor.

United sits on top of the group with 10 points, followed by Valencia with seven, Rangers with five and Bursaspor with none. United is unbeaten in the Champions League, as well as the EPL and are tied with Chelsea for first place in England (although Chelsea owns the tie-breaker based on goal differential). Rangers are leading the Scottish Premier League at the moment with a three-point lead over arch rivals Celtic. They’ve lost only one league game, but let’s not forget Scottish football has basically been a two-team race for decades now.

United and Rangers met a few weeks ago at Old Trafford and put the majority of fans to sleep in a dull, goalless game. You can thank Rangers manager Walter Smith for the insomnia cure since he didn’t have the stones to attack and go for a win. Thus, he parked the bus and defended for 90 minutes. But this time he’s going to have to produce something or Rangers, as usual, will be on the outside looking in when the next stage of the competition starts.

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United will be boosted with the return of striker Wayne Rooney, but defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will probably sit out. Ferdinand may as well sit out the rest of the season since he’s always complaining about some phantom injury. When he does play, he’s more or less useless, with his signature move being a back pass to his own keeper from the halfway line.

God only knows who manager Alex Ferguson will dress as he’s got a lot to choose from in his deep squad. Ryan Giggs could be back, but it looks like Michael Owen is still out and Rafael may join him.

For Rangers, center-back Madjid Bougherra is injured along with Maurice Edu, Andy Webster, and James Beattie. But don’t rule any of these guys out until kick off. Sasa Papac may also be back after missing a couple of games due to a head injury.

The only thing going for Rangers, at the moment, is they’re unbeaten so far at home in the Champions League and they should have confidence after their last meeting with United. But United has won eight of their last nine road games in the competition and will look to secure their passage to the next round.  

The fans will be up for this match so let’s hope the players are too. It’s a pretty hard one to predict, but if you’re feeling confident or lucky you can make wagers on it at betgameday.com and  Guardian