Date: 24th November 2008 at 7:18pm
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Don’t kid yourself folks: this is one crucial game tomorrow. OK, it’s highly unlikely that we don’t qualify – losing by four goals to Aalborg at Old Trafford seems a bit far-fetched – but first place in the group is important. Last time we managed to knock out a team with the first leg held at Old Trafford was in 1999, against Inter…

According to latest news, Ronaldo might be back despite picking up a leg injury at Villa. Fine thing, that, as we looked a little bit toothless at Villa Park even with him in the side – imagine it without him?

I already gave my views about how much we miss Berbatov so won’t elaborate on that again. But it’s a godsend that Darren Fletcher is available again – his energy will be very important. He’s our best midfielder this season so expect a big contribution.

Edwin van der Sar is also out and we still can’t call Wes Brown and Gary Neville into action. Question is, will Fergie risk Rafael against one of the best teams of Spain? I guess not though I’d take the gamble.

Giuseppe Rossi missed out on a return to Old Trafford but he’s now set to face us, partnering Guillermo Franco as Joseba Llorente and Nihat Kahveci are both injured.

With so many attacking players missing, others in bad form, it’s not hard to assume it will be another 0-0 draw. All three games against Villarreal so far have followed a similar pattern: at home we totally dominated but couldn’t score and we were the better team away as well but couldn’t score.

Will it change? Well, yes, if Rooney and especially Tevez come out of their shells and start to perform. Wayne needs to rediscover his October form as it’s incredibly frustrating how inconsistent his form is, based on his not-too-stable confidence and self-belief.

The opponents clearly spent the Saturday thinking about the upcoming game and barely noticed that they were stuffed at home by Valladolid who beat Real Madrid a week before. But make no mistake: they’ll be right up for it. They will sense that we are not the force we were last season and will probably try to target the right-back post. Rafael or O’Shea against Pires – hope they’ll put the Gooner in his place!

I’d like to think that Villarreal won’t play such an aggressive pressing game as most English sides do and leave us some more space. However, Manuel Pellegrini is an excellent manager and he must have noticed our obvious weakness which is dealing with a physical approach. I guess they’ll want to drink blood…