Manchester United v Stuttgart
But despite lying in second place, Manchester United’s manager Alex Ferguson, has set his sights on finishing top of Group E. Meanwhile, his opposite number, Felix Magath, has said that his Stuttgart side – who are yet to lose in the Bundesliga this season – has no intention of giving United an easy ride.
Magath said: “Manchester United seem to be in good form and will of course be favourites. But we don’t want to come here and lie down. We want to win the group and go into the knockout stages as winners.”
Ferguson is expected to reshuffle his side ahead of this weekend’s Premiership clash with Manchester City. Paul Scholes is likely to start after returning from injury with Roy Keane expected to be rested. Scholes, who came on as a substitute last weekend in United’s 4-0 trouncing of Aston Villa, had being sidelined with a groin injury and his return is a welcomed by Ferguson.
He said: “Scholes has scored over 100 goals for the club and is a magnificent player. The way he arrives late in the box is so good and he is such a threat. He is one of the best players in the world.”
United are also expected to field Roy Carroll in goal after Tim Howard announced that he was suffering with a muscle problem.
Stuttgart will have a fully fit squad to chose from with the exception of defender Marcelo Bordon. The Brazilian has been influential in Stuttgart’s success in the campaign so far. Despite his absence Magath said that he would not change his defensive tactics to deal with the threat posed by United’s hit-man, Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“We are not just playing Van Nistelrooy – we are playing Manchester United,’ said Magath.
‘Our defence is strong and we hope it will be just as strong again.”
Rangers v Panathinaikos
Rangers’ coach Alex McLeish believes that his side deserves to stay in European football.
“The players love playing in Europe and we want to stay there as long as possible,” he said.
“We have played well in our games at Ibrox and we need another good performance to progress to the UEFA Cup.”
McLeish will be without Emerson and Shota Arveladze for the clash at Ibrox. Emerson will miss the game owing to a family bereavement, while Arveladze pulled out after failing a fitness test.
The Greek side are also without key players after losing strikers Dimitrios Papadopoulos and Emmanuel Olisadebe through injury. But coach Itzhak Shum believes still believes that his side can beat the Scottish champions.
“We haven’t had much luck in our matches so far,” said Shum.
“A lot of important players are injured but we will have to go with the players we have and try to win the game. I hope the players can give everything and if we are positive, I’m sure we can win.”
Panathinaikos have only managed a point in the competition so far, coming in a 1-1 draw against the Scots in Athens.