Preview: CFR 1907 Cluj v United



Sir Alex Ferguson left a rash of players at home as Manchester United chase a second win in this season’s Champions League group stage. Fresh from defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, and a drab victory over Galatasary on match-day one, Ferguson flew with a stripped-down squad to Romania’s third largest city on Tuesday. Victory over CFR 1907 Cluj will bring the Reds to within four points of likely qualification for the knock-out stages of this season’s competition.

It promises to be a testing fixture against the Romanian champions, who knocked out FC Basel in the Champions League preliminary round this season. Basel’s victory over United in Switzerland last season consigned the Reds to the Europa League for the first time since 2005.

Ferguson will be without midfielders Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick, together with a trio of defenders for the tie at the atmospheric Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu. Valencia is out with a bruised ankle, while Giggs and Carrick are each suffering from a virus.

Scholes has been rested after playing 90 minutes against Spurs on Saturday and should return for United’s Premier League trip to Newcastle United next weekend.

However, Ferguson will at least be able to field two fit centre-halves after Jonny Evans recovered from a dead leg sustained against Spurs at the weekend. The Northern Irishman will partner Rio Ferdinand in central defence, with captain Nemanja Vidić, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all on the sidelines.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the threadbare squad Ferguson says United will show The Railwaymen every respect on Tuesday night. United beat compatriots Oțelul Galați home and away last season.

“They’ve beaten Basel twice and Basel knocked us out so we need to give them every respect,” said Ferguson of Tuesday’s opponents.

“CFR are a team who defend quickly and get plenty of bodies behind the ball. Their main strength is the counterattack, as they showed against Braga. Counterattacking is very important in European football these days. Their strongest point is they have got three points. They play us tomorrow and then two games against Galatasaray. They need seven more points from five games and they will qualify.”

CFR 1907 Cluj v Manchester United, Champions League, 2 October 2012Ferguson kept his squad back at Carrington a day longer than is usual prior to Champions League fixtures after the Reds lost 3-2 at home to Spurs at the weekend. United’s performance in the first half of the reverse was arguably the worst of the campaign to date. United rallied in the second period, but failed to turn the match around for a second Premier League defeat of the season.

Indeed, in conceding three against Andre Villas-Boas’ north Londoners United has now shipped twice or more for the third time this season. It is a defensive record that will again be tested in Cluj-Napoca – the unofficial capital of Transylvania.

“We made the decision to train at home because most of the time when you train abroad you can’t do anything because everyone is watching,” added Sir Alex.

“Training at Carrington this morning allowed us to do things around picking the team and tactics. Our second half against Spurs on Saturday was probably our best performance of the season, but you have to be concerned with the way we lost the goals. We were well off the pace of the game.”

Ferguson is likely to recall Wayne Rooney for the clash, with the Scouser central to a dominant attacking performance in the second period against Tottenham. The fixture may also offer Darren Fletcher a second start of the campaign, especially given Ferguson’s need to juggle limited resources in central midfield. At least one of Tom Cleverley and Anderson should also feature.

Meanwhile, Cluj coach Ioan Andone has Vasile Maftei available after the defender served a one-game suspension on match-day one. However, Ciprian Deac, Adam Vass, Bakary Sare, and Ronny all miss out with injury.

Much traveled Andone is with his 13th club as a manager in a career that has taken the former international defender from Romania, to Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Once considered one of Romania’s best defenders, Andone played in Netherlands and Spain before taking up coaching as a 33-year-old.

In seven seasons as a player with Dinamo, Andone won two league titles and three Romanian Cups as well as reaching the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals. Andone joined CFR for a second spell as manager in April 2012, claiming the league title a month later.

“I met United when I was coach of Dinamo Bucureşti, but that was two different teams, two different scenarios,” said Andone of the 2004 preliminary round fixture that United won 5-1 on aggregate.

“Now CFR have a few players with experience in the Champions League, and we have the whole of Romania behind us. I hope our enthusiasm will make a difference. If we manage to score, we will have a chance. I don’t think you can speak about fear against United.”

Indeed, after Galatasaray ran United so close at Old Trafford on match-day one there should be little to fear from Ferguson’s men, who have failed to excel in Europe’s premier competition for more than a year.

Yet, Cluj has shown mixed form in the campaign to date, beating Basel twice in the preliminary round and then SC Braga on match-day one, but slipping to sixth in Liga I Bergenbier. Cluj beat Gloria Bistriţa 5-1 on Saturday, but has suffered two domestic defeats to date this season.

Match Details
CFR 1907 Cluj v Manchester United – Champions League, Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu – Wednesday 2 October 2012, 7.45pm

Possible Teams
Cluj (4-5-1): Felguerias; Pinto, Cadu, Rada, Sepsi; Mureşan, Alberto, Sougou, Bastos, Camora; Kapetanos. Subs from: Mincă, Maftei, Alberto, Sepsi, Bjelanović, Piccolo, Valente, Godemèche, Pedro, Aguirregaray, Nicoară, Buş, Sougou

United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Fletcher, Cleverley; Nani, Rooney, Kagawa; Van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Büttner, Wootton, Keane, Powell, Anderson, Macheda, Welbeck, Hernández.

Officials (all Spain)
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
Assistant referees: Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar, Jesús Calvo Guadamuro
Additional assistant referees: Carlos Gómez, Javier Estrada Fernandez

Form
Cluj: DWWLWW
United: WWWWWL

Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting between the sides

Prediction
0-2

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Comments

  1. machedinho says:

    Macheda played for the 21′s yesterday fella…

  2. DG
    Raf – Rio – Evans – Evra
    Fletch – Ando
    Roo – Clev – Kagawa
    RVP

    Won’t happen, but I’d play that.

  3. I’d like to see Keane/Wootton get a game to rest Rio tonight. Given the lack of a left winger Buttner might be a good idea too.

    I’d like to see what Nani, Rooney, Kagawa and van Persie could do together over 90 mins. At least one of those will be dropped for Welbeck/Chicharito though. As frustrating as Welbeck’s shooting is, behind Rooney he is our 2nd hardest working forward – he tracks back well and is also quite effective defensively. He gives our lightweight midfield protection. I think it’s a big reason our 442 ever worked last season – Welbeck and Rooney were both capable of dropping deeper and defending from the front and both were comfortable in possession.

    DDG
    Rafael-Keane-Evans-Buttner
    Fletch
    Anderson-Cleverley
    Rooney-van Persie-Kagawa

    Away in Europe, quite possibly without Rio starting, 433 would make the most sense.
    Chicharito

  4. Violent Banana says:

    Can somebody please explain our formation to me, in particular who our wide players are

    Line Up:

    De Gea – Rafael Ferdinand Evans Evra – Anderson Fletcher Cleverley – Rooney – Hernandez v Persie

  5. DDG
    Raf-Rio-Evans-Evra
    Anderson-Fletcher-Cleverley
    Rooney-Hernandez-RVP

  6. Minus The Bear says:

    Good team. Please no defensive injuries though….

  7. Commenter said:
    Can somebody please explain our formation to me, in particular who our wide players are

    Raf/Evra. Strikers will work the channels

  8. Minus The Bear says:

    Fletcher is meant to be sitting in front of the defence.

    De Gea
    Rafael – Rio – Evans – Evra
    Fletcher
    Anderson Cleverley

    I suppose it is a 4-1-2-3 that can change into a 4-1-4-1

  9. That’s a good team – fast, good passing, energetic…..I like it

  10. Violent Banana says:

    Thanks Marlon, will be interesting to see how it plays out. Agree with the above, quality line-up in terms of pace and dynamism.

  11. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Unbelievable…

  12. Clunge score.

  13. Oh dear…

  14. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    We can’t defend.

  15. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Never mind Scholes… our biggest liability right now, is Evra.

  16. Can anyone recommend a good live stream? Tks

  17. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Never mind Scholes… our biggest liability right now, is Evra.

    How Evra still gets into the team is beyond belief. Heinze was way less shit before he got shipped out.

  18. Minus The Bear says:

    football streaming . info is always plentiful

  19. Violent Banana says:

    It’s on ITV, and their website Anatax. Agree about Evra, why not give Buttner a run, he’s looked pretty sharp

  20. Minus The Bear says:

    We’re the new Arsenal, loads of pissing about on the edge of the box. No end product.

  21. Get in RVP

  22. Violent Banana says:

    We’ll take that thank you very much

  23. Any brave predictions at half time mates…?

  24. Beauty. Absolute beauty

  25. Hmm looking bad again after our 2nd…

  26. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    Now that Cluj have to play football, United can’t seem to put two passes together. This team is woefully weak in the fundamentals.

  27. Violent Banana says:

    Great take De Gea, he’d have punched that a year ago

  28. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Fuck sake these cunts never stop running.

  29. Cleverley you bloody idiot. Keep the bloody ball

  30. Violent Banana says:

    Pretty decent display, top result – let the recovery for the Newcastle game begin

  31. I watched it on a dodgy internet connection so i might have missed many things…but seems to me another unconvincing display with shoddy defensive work. Bailed out (again) by the brilliance of RVP and Rooney

  32. Cleverly consistently, persistently excellent, Ando looking good, Rooney had flashes of class and his first touch looks great, RVP works hard (which I never noticed before) and is obviously capable of brilliance at times. Defence a bit shaky, but we looked pretty good I thought. Kept the ball well, constant movement. Happy…

  33. I’ll second the Cleverley praise – and he’ll only get better if given game time, his movement and vision make us look a really well oiled machine at times. Not to mention his pressing and nicking of loose balls.

    It was interesting that no wingers played at all though in my opinion I’d have swapped Hernandez for Valencia or Kagawa – then I’m getting really excited at the possibilities!

    But most likely the momentum will stop again when both the old lads are wheeled back in for Newcastle!

  34. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    dont like all this narrow bollocks

  35. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    dont like all this narrow bollocks

    Oh get a grip ffs, or at least a consistent opinion – where’s your complaining about Scholes only passing it out wide for wingers to cross it in. You’re just a moaning fucker that seems to have lost sight of what it means to enjoy supporting a team and just takes up a negative contrary position. What was the last positive thing you had to say about ‘your’ team? Lighten the fuck up and get your head out of your LKHF ass – you know that people don’t actually LKHF anymore don’t you?

  36. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    from one extreme to the other, and back to the former with endless crossing shite come the newcastle game

  37. Denton Davey says:

    Alfonso Bedoya @ 8:04: “our biggest liability right now, is Evra.”

    He got caught out – again – by playing too centrally rather than covering the space on the wing. Then he got turned inside-out by his guy. Evans was left in a tough situation – but he made the worst of it !

  38. Denton Davey says:

    baloo @ 9:56: “Cleverly consistently, persistently excellent, Ando looking good”

    I thought that Anderson was much more impressive than YoungTom BUT I agree that they both need to play together AND play a lot. Together with DarrenFletcherinho, tonight’s midfield had drive, energy, and pro-activity – not exactly what we get with Scholes/Carrick.

  39. I am happy with the result, and i agree there are a lot of positives. Keeping in mind my dodgy internet connection, I thought RVP and Rooney were brilliant, And Clev and Ando looked decent. Good possession too which is encouraging.

    But i do wonder if it’s all that. How many chances did we create really? How many saves did we force their keeper to make? How many last gasp tackles or blocks did Cluj make. Again thanks to my dodgy connection I did miss some minutes of the game, but i really didnt see that many chances.

    Good result, some positives for sure and thank God for RVP. But still loads of improving to do…

  40. Rio, Evans and Evra all culpable for the goal. Evans had no idea where his man was and Rio, who could see everything in front of him and had no one else in the box to mark, did nothing. How can we be so vulnerable to a long ball out wide. It’s pathetic.

    RVP seems a little like Berba in his interviews – said he was happy with his goals but wanted to make more assists. This is probably because we have Rooney to compare him to, but he doesn’t seem that good at dropping back into the game. Not as good as Welbeck last season either. He’s like Berba but not as strong and less skilful (when he drops back).

    Anderson’s fitness seemed much better today and the three CMs all played quite well, although at times it looked like Fergie wanted our width to come from Anderson and Cleverley, with both fullbacks rarely joining attacks. The whole point of Fletcher playing so deep is that it allows the CBs to play further apart to cover the fullbacks when they attack. Makes no sense to play a holding player and restrict your fullbacks. Against Newcastle with a similar set up, Hernandez and Welbeck worked the channels far more and gave the team some shape. I’m not supporting wasteful crossing, but without a player out wide, there is no space in the middle. (And it’s not like the wide player has to cross it).

    For all our possession, they let us have it in the first half and then when they were chasing the game in the 2nd half we seemed unable to keep it in their half or create any chances. We had no territorial advantage over 90 minutes. Other than the two goals, there weren’t many near misses or good chances wasted. Rooney can play well anywhere and obviously created both goals, but in this game and the newcastle game he seemed a little too deep – almost a CM. Seems a waste for a guy who scored 30+ last season even though we have RVP (who, 7 goals aside, has been missing some very good chances.

    Formation was weird – a 442 diamond (Fletch and Rooney the tips) – it doesn’t suit our squad or philosophy at all. Firstly we have very good wingers and secondly it asks a lot from the fullbacks which is one of our weakest areas. It seem the only way to include a holding player and a no.10 though. Still, I’d rather have Rooney further forward (like Kagawa) and then have two wide forwards who can cut in. How is our team ever going to play well if he cuts the squad in two, and tells one half to play with one formation and the other a different one.

  41. marlon said:
    RVP seems a little like Berba in his interviews – said he was happy with his goals but wanted to make more assists. This is probably because we have Rooney to compare him to, but he doesn’t seem that good at dropping back into the game. Not as good as Welbeck last season either. He’s like Berba but not as strong and less skilful (when he drops back).

    Are you serious? RVP has 7 goals (and one assist) for us already, and the team’s been playing like shit. If he keeps this up, he’ll have a monster goal total by the end of the season. What kind of damage is he going to do if we ever get our act together and give him consistently good service?

  42. Think RVP said that to be diplomatic and keep Rooney happy.

    As for his form, 7 goals in 8 games. Cant be bothered to look up the stats but i am guessing its gonna be a very high chance conversion rate. Outside of the penalty miss and the one good chance vs Tottenham where he shot wide I cant remember that many good chances he missed.
    On the contrary there have been some wonder goals that i would bet good money on most other world-class strikers would not have been able to convert to goal – the Fulham one and last night’s second springs to mind..

  43. bman:
    I wasn’t criticising his goal scoring. Clearly he has an excellent record so far and he scores some amazing goals. I was criticising the rest of his game. When he arrived people said there would be a clash with Rooney because they both liked to drop deep and get involved – in those terms he hasn’t really lived up to that. Aside from a few back heels, there hasn’t been much else to his game. I don’t have a problem with having an amazing goal machine in the team – just saying that so far he doesn’t seem to be much of a creator.
    Anantax:
    He also missed the most clear cut chances of any player in the league last season. That’s down to him getting in those positions frequently, but he still missed those chances. Granted, most players wouldn’t have finished them, but for a player of his calibre, it’s a chance missed and there have been a few this season. (Having read what I just wrote, it seems unfair, but he has raised my expectations with all of the skilful finishes – I expect him to be able to put away the easier ones now).

  44. RVP:
    PL: 17 shots, 5 goals
    CL: 6 shots, 2 goals
    Averaging a goal every 82 mins and an assist every 572 mins.

    Goal machine, not creator (so far)

  45. Just1n said:
    How Evra still gets into the team is beyond belief. Heinze was way less shit before he got shipped out.

    Don’t be silly, Heinze was terrible.

  46. dozer said:
    Don’t be silly, Heinze was terrible.

    I beg to differ. Heinze made some pretty rash challengers but Evra is ALWAYS out of position these days and he is prone to jogging like he could not give a fuck.

  47. Good result, but still some glaring issues. Defence is shameful at the minute, and hernandez is nothing more than a supersub at best.
    Liked the look of the midfield though, and loved rooney n rvp, if we can squeeze kagawa and tony v in a workable side with them we’re on a winner.

  48. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    dozer said:
    Don’t be silly, Heinze was terrible.

    And a complete cunt as well…

    Evra needs to sit for a while… maybe face up to fighting for his place… like to give Buttnuts a run of games…

  49. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Hard to get a read of just how well we played/or not… we should be taking a team like Cluj to the shed and leaving them there, humiliated and weeping… but it’s hard to break any team down that puts so many bodies behind the ball… and their fitness and pressing was very impressive… right to the end, their forwards never stopped running and chasing… and once you give a team like that a free goal, it’s like giving them an extra man… had we scored first, it might have led to a pummeling…
    Can’t complain about the result, but I’m still not happy that we’re not putting these second rate teams in their proper place…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  50. Leif Sward says:

    As much as it is hard to dispute that Evra has been culpable for a lot of goals over the past few seasons, I ended up feeling a little sorry for him last night. With no-one ahead of him he was given no option but to provide width down the left and when you are that far forward its an awful long way to get back if the opposition counters. He’s effectively playing two positions so its no wonder he looked shit in both. On the other side, it seemed to me that Rafa was playing much more defensively (maybe he just got more protection) but it was great to see him use his head.

  51. I think we have to realise it isn’t the 90s. Wingers and hammering less well known sides for cricket scores just doesn’t happen any longer. Just because Cluj isn’t a big name doesn’t mean they aren’t competent. They knocked Basel out who did the same to us last season. They worked hard, got men behind the ball and were pacey on the break. An away win was a really good result. We would have lost that game last season.
    The formation we played is the way forward and will give us a chance to compete better in European games. Giggs is past it, Young injured, Nani erratic, Bebe an non entity, we only have one top winger in the squad which is Tony V. He can play anywhere in the front 3 anyway, as can Young if we need him. I would love to see Tony V as one of the front two! A mix of 3 of Fletcher, Anderson, Cleverley, Scholes and Carrick should do the job in midfield against the vast majority of sides.

  52. Denton Davey says:

    Bill @ 2:48: “I think we have to realise it isn’t the 90s. Wingers and hammering less well known sides for cricket scores just doesn’t happen any longer. Just because Cluj isn’t a big name doesn’t mean they aren’t competent.”

    D’ya think that there’s a “levelling up” of the also-rans or a “levelling down” of UTD ?

    Either way, all of these matches against “minnows” are much more competitive than in yesteryear.

  53. A bit of both, we definitely haven’t done ourselves any favours in the last few seasons. We are especially being found out in Europe as they move on and Britain reluctantly gets dragged into the modern era of tactics, technique and sports science.
    Having Phelan as assistant manager isn’t helping things. Doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who up is with current trends in coaching & tactics. I hope that we aren’t being ambushed with the Phelan next United manager trick!
    As they say standing still is going backwards.

  54. Denton Davey says:

    Levelling up or down ?

    “Bate Borisov stunned Bayern Munich 3-1 in Champions League Group F, their second victory in two games.

    Bate, who beat Lille by the same score in their opener, went ahead with a 23rd-minute goal from Aleksandr Pavlov and added late goals by Vitali Rodionov and Renan Bressan to snap Bayern’s nine-game winning streak in all competitions. Frank Ribéry scored for Bayern in injury time.

    “It was a very difficult match but we fought until the end,” said the Bate winger Aleksandr Hleb, who spent seven years in the Bundesliga. “This is a sensational result for us. We will celebrate a bit but we need to keep working hard.

    “Bayern are still favourites in our group. We are taking it one match at a time,” said the former Barcelona player.

    Last season’s Champions League finalists had dominated the first half and hit the post through Toni Kroos but were nervous about going forward in the second period because of the Belarussian champions’ potent counter-attacks. The result leaves the group wide open with Bate top on six points and Bayern on three with Valencia, who beat Lille 2-0.

    The Bayern coach, Jupp Heynckes, aiming to break a club record with a 10th straight win, started with Javi Martínez instead of Bastian Schweinsteiger. However, the Spaniard, who cost €40m (£32m) in Bayern’s biggest close-season transfer, showed little initiative and was taken off early in the second half.

    The hosts were never intimidated by their more illustrious opponents and Denis Polyakov forced a reflex save from the Bayern goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, after seven minutes.

    “I knew this would be a very tough opponent and in such games you have to take the lead,” said Heynckes. “We hit the post and bar and we had some bad luck.

    “We constantly piled on the pressure but we have to give credit to our opponents. They are a very well-organised team, especially in defence, and they showed it again tonight.”

    Are the MasterBaters the YoungBoysOfBasel in disguise ?

  55. Shouldn’t be too much of a surprise most of these 2nd tier CL teams are full of internationals albeit from some of the average European nations. The odd South American too.

  56. Denton Davey says:

    Lots and lots of South Americans play outside their country – Brazil currently has something like 300 guys playing overseas and Argentina has a dozen-dozen at least

  57. Coach Herbie says:

    When we play Newcastle, I hope Fergie is in his right mind when he selects the team. And yes, you play Fletcher in front of the defence. His job is to keep anything from coming down the middle before it gets to the defenders and put pressure on the opponents midfielders. We don’t need to play a left winger, play Buttner as attacking leftback. Wide left midfield should be Powell, and he also has a wicked left foot.

    DeGEA
    RAFAEL EVANS FERDINAND BUTTNER
    FLETCHER

    ANDERSON KAGAWA POWELL
    ROONEY Van PERSIE

    Iam not using any wingers, Rafael and Buttner are attacking fullbacks and Nani right now is a waste of time.
    This is my team when we play Newcastle. I hear we are looking to buy Paul Ince son, Thomas Ince for 6 million in January to replace Nani. Keep an eye on this news.

  58. Marlon – i think we agree then that he does and will miss some chances (some sitters too last season) but overall he’s just a wondrous goal machine thats beneficial to Utd
    On a more positive note – 1 more win and we’ll be in strong position to qualify….Surely we can manage that…

  59. threadoflength says:

    Commenter said:
    Bill @ 2:48: “I think we have to realise it isn’t the 90s. Wingers and hammering less well known sides for cricket scores just doesn’t happen any longer. Just because Cluj isn’t a big name doesn’t mean they aren’t competent.”

    D’ya think that there’s a “levelling up” of the also-rans or a “levelling down” of UTD ?

    Either way, all of these matches against “minnows” are much more competitive than in yesteryear.

    I think without a doubt the also-rans are getting better. There is at least one minnow who makes the knockout stage every year these days (sometimes two), and nobody is impervious to a shock result away against the little guys (especially Bayern). FC Copenhagen, FC Basel, and APOEL Nicosia knocked out the likes of Panathinaikos, Rubin Kazan, Porto, Zenit, and us to make the knockouts in the last 2 years and in a group stage setting that is no accident.

  60. The English teams are a bit shit now n all compared to the dominance they enjoyed in 2008. Chelsea won it on a wing and a prayer last season. That’s as barmy army as it gets.
    It’s time for pundits and English fans to actually acknowledge other leagues and other teams now because a lot of them are better than their English opposition. I know a City fan whose calling for Mancini’s head because he lost to a poor overrated team in Dortmund. Load of shit.

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