Match to be played on Wednesday 27th November 2013 at 19:45. Venue: BayArena, Leverkusen.
Against Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester United face the second-placed side in Group A and the only other team in the four-club table aside from United who are undefeated at home. A victory can virtually secure supremacy in the Group and a supposedly easier first knockout round test but, to do so, in Germany, would require fielding as full strength a side as possible.
For injuries, Robin van Persie was omitted from the team that lined-up opposite Cardiff City due to a groin complaint and the Dutchman's inclusion in Leverkusen may involve a late fitness test. Shinji Kagawa's experience of Bundesliga sides could have been vital, but he is in the physio's room, as is pass master Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher. Marouane Fellaini is suspended.
Here's the side Moyes may go with…
GK – David de Gea
A mainstay in United's line-up, Moyes will unlikely axe his primary glovesman in a match of this magnitude. With just three goals against in Champions League football this season, de Gea concedes at a rate of once every two hours he is on the pitch.
RB – Chris Smalling
Smalling will have to develop an understanding with Valencia, in order to lock down the right flank.
CB – Rio Ferdinand
One man Rio may be particularly wary of is Stefan Kiessling, whose confidence will be high as he was the difference-maker during Bayer's 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin recently, taking his tally for the season to 12.
'He has good movement and we watched a lot of videos on him before [the game at Old Trafford] so we knew a lot of the dangers he posed,' said Ferdinand to the club's official website. 'He's scored a lot of goals over in Germany in the past few seasons so we know we have to be on our toes to make sure he doesn't get many chances because he's definitely capable of finishing them.'
CB – Jonny Evans
Depending on the positions that Kiessling or Son Heung-Min take up, Evans may end up having to contain one, or the other, or both, at stages throughout the match inside the BayArena.
LB – Patrice Evra
One of the more prominent stars of Korean football, Son Heung-Min is enjoying rave reviews in the Bundesliga this term, is on form, adaptable, can be deployed in a number of positions across the forward line and should not be allowed any space as has a particularly precise finish on him. If he lines up on the right, Evra may well have a hard day/night at the office.
CM – Tom Cleverley
In the absence of Carrick, the midfield burden will have to be shouldered by Cleverley and the burgeoning Englishman - who has an 89% pass completion rate and 95% tackling success rate in the Premier League - will face a European examination against Sven Bender, who will be looking to dominate United's central areas.
CM – Ryan Giggs
The experience of Giggs could well counter-act any Champions League naivety of his midfield team-mate Cleverley.
LF – Danny Welbeck
If Welbeck fails to make an impact during the first hour, he may well make way for the more exuberant Adnan Januzaj, who could become something of a super sub if used correctly.
RF – Antonio Valencia
Valencia needs to start making key influences on a match. His crossing accuracy could be improved, as he only completes one every 98 minutes in the Premier League this season, however, his passing statistics, too, are below par. The less he is on the ball, the lesser his chance of doing something useful with it. His pace could be an asset on Wednesday, and he can help Smalling defensively, also.
CF – Wayne Rooney
The Englishman's playground enthusiasm for the ball should be encouraged as he will get behind Simon Rolfes, find space between the lines and create complications for Emir Spahic and Omer Toprak. With two goals and two assists in European competition to date this season, Rooney is directly responsible for a goal every 59 minutes he is on a Champions League pitch. He may well be the danger man again…
ST – Javier Hernandez
With van Persie facing a race against time to prove his fitness ahead of the trip to Leverkusen, there are few second choice strikers in world football who represent as good a deputy as Chicharito. Last season, he scored a goal with every 3.8 of his shots, returning at a rate of once every 94.8 minutes.
Do you agree with this line-up? Who would you field instead?
image: © Jason Gulledge