Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has admitted that his side face a tricky, and potentially scary test, when they travel to Old Trafford to face holders Manchester United.
“Yes, it is a wee bit scary, they weren’t champions two years ago (the last time the two sides met) and now they are English and European champions,” said Strachan. “Their younger players have two years’ more experience and the more you think about it, the scarier it gets.
Strachan is without is both his main centre-forwards, Georgios Samaras and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, and could ask the diminutive Scott McDonald to continue in the lone striker role he filled in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The sides’ respective home and away records in the competition indicate a home win is a formality: United are unbeaten in 16, Celtic without an away win in 18. Yet Strachan felt his team was getting closer with their performance in losing at Villarreal on Matchday 2.
“I had a system we could play, for probably the first time since I’ve been here, and play it with confidence that everybody could play in that,” he said.
United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson’s, biggest problem is whether to dispense with some of the attacking talent at his disposal.
“It is very difficult trying to gauge whether I can play the three of them [Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov] together,” he said. “I think it is possible with one of them playing in behind.”
The Scot, perhaps mindful of Portugal coach, Carlos Queiroz’s, assertion that Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to reach full fitness, may rest the winger tonight and start with Nani.
Ferguson, missing Patrice Evra with a hamstring problem, predicts an open game. United do not want to drop any further home points having drawn with Villarreal already.