Know Manchester United's rivals in Champions League Group H

Manchester United who were seeded in Pot 1 have been drawn in Group H in the Champions League. takes a look at their opponents and what they can expect from them..
By Brendon Netto

SC Braga

Performance in last year's tournament: Finished 4th in the Premeira Liga, did not qualify.

How they qualified this year:  Finished 3rd in the league and beat Udinese in the Champions League play-offs.

The Manager

Jose Peseiro is a Portuguese coach who graduated from the same managing course as Jose Mourinho. After achieving success in the lower leagues in Portugal, he had a brief stint as assistant manager at Real Madrid in the 2003-04 season under Carlos Queiroz. He subsequently took charge of Sporting CP where he narrowly missed out on the league title as they finished third and had his side defeated in the finals of the UEFA Cup. He introduced a positive style of possession football but his frequent squad rotations hindered the stability of the team. He also had a brief spell as coach of Saudi Arabia before signing for SC Braga in June of this year.

Formation and Tactics


On the final day of the summer transfer window, star striker and top scorer in the league last season, Rodrigo Lima left the club to join the ranks at Benfica. The deal saw Brazilian striker, Michel move in the opposite direction and it is likely that he takes Lima's place in the line-up as well. New manager Jose Peseiro has introduced a new scheme that involves playing the 4-2-3-1 formation. Peseiro insists on a possession-based style of play and encourages his players to build from the back. Braga are not a 'light weight' side and deserve to be taken just as seriously as fellow Portuguese clubs FC Porto and Sporting CP. Beto is a talented keeper in a strong defence. The midfield department boasts four Portuguese internationals in Hugo Viana, Ruben Micael, Ruben Amorim and Custodio. As mentioned earlier, Michel is likely to occupy the role of the lone striker while youngster Eder is also an option up front.


SC Braga will definitely be aiming for a place in the last 16. The Portuguese outfit have the strength to challenge for second place in the group or even the top spot if Manchester United suffer somewhat of a repeat of their last European experience. They have the strength to trouble the United defence and their quality appears to be greater than that of the other two contenders, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj. 

  Man to Watch - Ruben Micael

With Rodrigo Lima out of the picture and Michel unlikely to produce the same form in front of goal as his predecessor so soon, the team are going to need someone else to step up to the plate. Ruben Micael has joined on loan from Atletico Madrid and has already scored 3 goals in his first 5 games. The attacking midfielder brings some creativity to the final third and possesses a goal threat as well.


Performance in last year's tournament: Finished 8th in their domestic league, did not qualify.

How they qualified this year: Won the Super Lig and gained automatic qualification.

The Manager

Fatih Terim spent a decade of his playing career with Galatasaray and won the league twice during that time. He had already won 4 Turkish league titles with the club as manager in 6 years in charge spanning over 2 spells before returning in January 2012 for his third spell. Since his return, the club have been on an incredible winning streak and he won his 5th Super Lig title as Galatasaray manager in his first season back. He also had brief stints at Fiorentina and AC Milan while turning down jobs with Barcelona and Liverpool. He took charge of the Turkish national team and led them to the sem-finals of Euro 2008 and helped them climb the FIFA rankings to 10th place before stepping down in 2009. Sir Bobby Robson also recommended him for the Newcastle job around the same time but he was overlooked. 

Formation and Tactics


Galatasaray employs a 4-4-2 formation that incorporates a diamond midfield. They push their full-backs up well and the system is a fluid one that looks to dominate possession, a key aspect of their manager's strategy. Inan operates from the hole behind the two strikers while Cloak drifts in from the left flank to link-up with him and the two strikers. Altintop stays wide and gets crosses in while Melo sits in front of the back four and distributes the ball as  soon as he gets it.


The Turkish outfit have a great chance of progressing from the group but are likely to battle it out with SC Braga in order to secure a qualifying spot. They have the players to to do it though and have been in exceptional form since the return of Fatih Terim at the helm. With the hostile atmosphere their fans create for any away team, they could be Manchester United's bogey team if they aren't alert to the danger.
  Man to Watch - Selcuk Inan

Selcuk Inan was instrumental in the club's title-winning campaign last season. He can switch from a defensive to an attacking mode with ease and as a result, he has been used in an attacking capacity even though he was known as a defensive midfielder. He only missed a solitary league match last season which speaks volumes of his consistency. Futhermore, he scored 13 goals and provided 11 assists last season. He is also a threat from direct free kicks as he managed to score 5 in that fashion during the last campaign. He has continued his scintillating form this season as well by registering 3 goals and as many assists in his first 6 games.

CFR Cluj

Performance in last year's tournament: Finished 10th in the Romanian league, did not qualify.

How they qualified this year:  Won the Romanian league and then beat FC Basel in the playoffs to qualify.

The Manager

Ioan Andone first became a manager in 1993 and over his nearly two decade-long career, he has never settled at any one club as he has served 16 so far. His best time as a manager came in 2008 when he guided CFR Cluj to the Liga I title and the Romanian Cup, shocking the nation with an incredible season. After brief stints in the Middle-east, Bulgaria and then back to Romania, he returned to Cluj this summer.
Formation and Tactics


CFR Cluj can indeed play in a 4-4-2 formation with Sougou operating as a second striker but it is likely that they will opt for the 4-2-3-1 formation, which they use regularly as well, in order to have more men in midfield against the bigger European sides. Muresan and Godemeche play as holding midifelders while Sougou, Rafael Bastos and Nicoara will support Kapetanos up front. Sougou is a real threat down the right hand side and regularly delivers dangerous crosses.


Cluj will hope for the best but they will be glad if they can secure a Europa League spot. They proved their mettle with their performances to overcome FC Basel who were a handful last year so it would be a mistake to take them lightly.

  Man to Watch - Modou Sougou

The Senegalese winger has been the star performer for the Romanian club. In 33 matches last season, he scored 10 goals and provided 15 assists in the domestic league. He is an accomplished finisher and is more than capable of running past a few defenders. His ability in the air makes him a force to reckon with. He is still a relatively unknown comodity for people outside of Romania and Senegal but the Champions League may just be the tournament that gives him the exposure he requires.

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