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UEFA Champions League Group H preview: Cluj await United test

By Football News



Manchester United travel to Romania to play Cluj in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as Braga face an intimidating trip to Galatasaray.

United will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday, their first home loss against Spurs for 23 years.

Goals from Jan Vertonghen, Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey sealed the hosts' fate at Old Trafford, with Nani and Shinji Kagawa netting in vain.

United manager Alex Ferguson is battling a defensive injury crisis early in the 2012/13 campaign - Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are all sidelined, leaving Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as the club's only fit centre-backs.

The outlook is healthier further forward, with Wayne Rooney returning to Premier League action against Tottenham.

The England international will compete with star signing Robin Van Persie, as well as Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, for a place in the forward line.

Attacking midfielder Ashley Young is out with a knee injury, while an ankle knock could keep Nani on the sidelines.

Cluj, United's hosts at the Stadionul Dr Constantin Radulescu, are level with the English club on three points in Group H courtesy of an impressive 2-0 win away to Braga on matchday one.

It is the second season in succession United have travelled to Romania in the Champions League after they were drawn against debutants Otelul Galati in the 2011/12 competition.

The other match in Group H sees Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray host Portuguese club Braga, with both teams seeking their first points in the pool.

Galatasaray were unfortunate to come away from Old Trafford empty-handed last month, as Michael Carrick's early goal consigned them to a 1-0 defeat despite the Super Lig side enjoying numerous chances.

Braga, meanwhile, have become a familiar face on the European scene, last appearing in the Champions League group stage in 2010/11.

They fell at the first hurdle on that occasion, and went on to lose to compatriots Porto in the final of the Europa League.

They are third in the Liga Sagres after five matches played, just one point behind joint leaders Benfica and Porto.

But after losing at home to Cluj, coach Jose Peseiro has it all to do if his team are to progress beyond the group stage.