On paper Manchester United are the strong favourites to beat Cluj in their next Champions League match. However, the adventures of Europe last season tripped up the Old Trafford club and they need to be careful not to let this happen again. Here are the five key players for the match.
With club captain Nemanja Vidic ruled out for the next two months, Evans has a big job to do in the United defence. This is the one area of the United team that opposition sides are going to be targeting. Evans has the most pace out of the United central defenders so he needs to keep the back four straight and secure to give himself the best chance of covering if Cluj play the ball in behind.
Evra looked weak in the 1-0 win over Galatasaray in the first group game. He has to be on top form and not making any mistakes because this is another area of the United defence that Cluj are going to be attacking. Evra does not have the pace he once had so his positioning is vital. It’s very important that United give him protection and that the defence covers for him when he’s up the other end of the field getting involved in the attacking play.
Kagawa has come into the club and seems to be the player that United were missing last season. The benefits he will provide in this match are the fact that he is always open to receive the ball which is important for releasing pressure, and he is one of the best passers in the side. Kagawa can spot passes in and around the penalty area which will set up goals. He has already done this in league games and it will be a key feature of United’s attacking play for the rest of the season.
Carrick is by no means the most glamorous name on the United team sheet but he is one of the most important. He has the job of breaking up the attacking play of the opposition as they flood forward. He may get booked for the way he plays but it will be vital if United are high up the pitch and exposed to the counter attack. He offers the back four vital protection and can even drop into a centre back position if Evans or Rio Ferdinand are high up the pitch following a corner or set piece.
Rooney is just coming back from a severe thigh gash which he picked up at the start of the season. Rooney is vital to linking the midfield with the attack of the side and he will be a key figure if Sir Alex Ferguson decides to play him up front on his own. If he is paired with Robin Van Persie then he will be doubly important as the midfield may need him to drop off and provide extra support to stop United from being crowded out.