FC Basel travel to Old Trafford to face an under-manned Manchester United squad on Tuesday in Champions League group play action, and one important player will not be in the lineup for manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Wayne Rooney, who has been on top of his game in 2011, remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, and won't be available for the match after missing Saturday's Premier League match with Stoke City.
Manchester United will also be without Rooney's forward partner Javier Hernandez, as well as midfielder Tom Cleverley. Ferguson will use a rather makeshift defense as Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic, and Rafael remain sidelined.
The loss of Rooney and Hernandez will allow Dimitar Berbatov a chance to prove himself. The Bulgarian striker was one of the leading scorers in the Premier League last season, but has seen a drop off in playing time due to the emergence of Hernandez last season, and the hot start of Danny Welbeck this season.
Ferguson has made it clear that Berbatov is not in his doghouse.
Of course Dimitar still has a big part to play, said Ferguson. He's one of our squad members and they all have a part to play.
The Red Devils will not be facing a pushover on Tuesday. Basel defeated Romanian club Otelul Galati, 2-1, in their first game, and tend to play well as a unit devoid of superstar talent.
Basel have good experience, they've been in Europe quite a few times and we'll respect that, said Ferguson.
The Swiss club are currently in fourth place in the 10-team Swiss Super League. They are led by striker Marco Strellar, and young attacking midfielder Fabian Frei.
Alexander Frei, no relation to Fabian, is still a dangerous forward at age 32, and newcomer Aleksander Dragovic is an up-and-coming defender. Basel will be without midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Benjamin Huggel who are suspended, and both are tough losses.
Basel more than likely will be playing for a draw, and according to their head coach Thorsten Fink, they plan on competing hard at Old Trafford.
We haven't come here to sit and watch, we have come here to play, said Fink.
Still it will be a difficult challenge for the Swiss club against a United club that are so deep that they could beat most clubs in the world with their reserves, not to mention the regular starters that will be in action such as Nani, Patrice Evra, and Ji Sung Park.
PREDICTION: Though Basel shouldn't be taken lightly, facing a powerhouse like Manchester United at Old Trafford is a daunting task, and not having Huggel certainly hurts. The Red Devils will be aggressive from the outset, and Berbatov may struggle to score at first, but it will eventually happen for the striker. Basel is bound to make a first-half mistake and Park will seize up on it. The second half will be all United, as Basel attempts to push forward with no success, as Michael Carrick does an effective job of both holding off Basel, and sparking an attack.
PREDICTED SCORE: Manchester United 4, Basel 0