United seeks Champions League win back at Old Trafford
Sep. 29, 2015
LONDON (AP) — Champions League football is back at Old Trafford.
Manchester United had to play a qualifier last month, but Wednesday's game against Wolfsburg will be the first group match at home in more than a year.
United opened its Group B campaign with a 2-1 loss at PSV Eindhoven, but the team is at the top of the Premier League for the first time since Alex Ferguson was in charge — when the team won its last title in 2013.
United, which beat Sunderland 3-0 on Saturday to move into first place in England, will be without defender Luke Shaw, who broke his leg in two places after a challenge by PSV defender Hector Moreno.
Also in Group B, PSV travels to Russia to play CSKA Moscow.
Here are some things to know about Wednesday's matches:
WARY OF WOLFSBURG
United will likely have to repeat its assured display against Sunderland to claim its first points in the Champions League — but manager Louis van Gaal could rotate his team to keep his players fresh.
"To beat your opponent every week (in the Premier League) is not easy, it is always a struggle and a battle," Van Gaal said. "Then you have to play again mid-week in the Champions League and that is the difference between all the clubs in Europe. You have to rotate and that is what I am doing now because I have to protect my players."
Van Gaal is also wary of Wolfsburg attacker Julian Draxler, who he compared to United's Anthony Martial.
"He was a very young talent when I was there (as Bayern Munich coach in Germany), so I know him," Van Gaal said. "He has to go on a long road like Martial, although it could be a little bit shorter because he has been playing longer on that level. He is a very good player."
SCHUERRLE TO STEP UP?
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking will be hoping that Andre Schuerrle's experience of playing in England for Chelsea will spur an improved display from the Germany attacker.
Hecking told German television that since signing Schuerrle from Chelsea last season, he has been unimpressed with his performance levels.
"We have expectations, which are higher than what has so far shown here," Hecking said. "He currently does not have the feeling for the situation in which he can be successful."
Wolfsburg is fourth in the Bundesliga and was held to a 1-1 draw by Hannover over the weekend.
PSV will be without captain and top striker Luuk de Jong for the match in Moscow after he damaged ankle ligaments in his team's 2-1 victory Saturday over NEC Nijmegen.
De Jong was injured in the first half by a challenge from Marcel Ritzmaeir, who is on loan at Nijmegen from PSV.
De Jong will likely be replaced by Juergen Locadia in Moscow, who has scored four goals in five league matches this season. Both De Jong and Locadia scored for PSV over the weekend.
Mexico international midfielder Andres Guardado is another noticeable absentee for the Dutch side.
For the first time in almost two years, CSKA Moscow will host a group match free of any UEFA sanctions.
A number of racist and violent incidents involving CSKA fans in recent years culminated in the Moscow team being forced to play all three of its Champions League home games behind closed doors last season.
Before getting this far, CSKA battled through two stages of qualifying, including a come-from-behind win over Sporting Lisbon. In the Russian league, things are even better, with CSKA still unbeaten and leading the standings by five points.
But CSKA's momentum has dropped over the last three weeks, with a 1-0 loss to Wolfsburg in its Champions League opener and difficult draws with Russian title rivals Zenit St. Petersburg and Lokomotiv Moscow — plus a bizarre encounter with Mordovia Saransk where CSKA went 3-0 down before winning 6-4.