Champions League

Rooney's form a concern

2015-08-17 18:30
Wayne Rooney (Getty)

Manchester - Manchester United will want more than just a first-leg lead from its Champions League playoff against Bruges on Tuesday.

A goal from Wayne Rooney would be very welcome, too.

Rooney's form is the main concern in an otherwise solid start to the season from United, which has won both of its opening games in the Premier League by 1-0 scorelines.

The England captain is United's No. 1 striker this season following the offseason departures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, yet he hasn't scored in the last eight games for his club and has only attempted one shot from open play this season.

Against Aston Villa on Friday, Rooney only touched the ball once in the penalty area all game.

Rooney should be given another chance to end his barren streak when Bruges visits Old Trafford for what might be the biggest mismatch of the 10 playoff matches. Each winning side over two legs enters the group stage starting next month, which will earn those clubs €12 million just for advancing — as well as €2 million for winning the playoff.

Bruges was the Belgian league's runner-up last season and is in third place after four games of the new season. It was a European Cup runner-up to Liverpool in 1978 and a Europa League quarterfinalist last season.

Seeking to return to the main draw of the Champions League after a year's absence, United should prove to be too much for the Belgian visitors.

Crucially, the 20-time English champions look more assured defensively with a midfield barrier of Michael Carrick and new signing Morgan Schneiderlin offering better protection, while Louis van Gaal's high pressing game is proving difficult for opponents. Van Gaal also has the option in midfield of Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, who could be handed his first competitive start.

The Dutch coach will want to see more from his attack, with Netherlands forward Memphis Depay yet to justify his billing as potentially the next Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford. It may only be when Rooney finds his form that Depay will prosper.

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