The FourFourTwo Preview: Bayern Munich vs Man United
Manchester United can’t really knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League, can they? How we got to the point of last year’s Premier League champions and three-time kings of Europe versus the reigning Champions League winners being billed as a mismatch is anybody’s guess. But a mismatch it is – judging by the first-leg stats, anyway. Bayern had an incredible 74% of possession at Old Trafford, more than twice as many shots as the hosts and double the number of corners.
BAYERN MUNICH FORM
- Augsburg 1-0 Bayern (Lge)
- Man Utd 1-1 Bayern (Cup)
- Bayern 3-3 Hoffenheim (Lge)
- Hertha 1-3 Bayern (Lge)
- Mainz 0-2 Bayern (Lge)
MAN UNITED FORM
- Newcastle 0-4 Man Utd (Lge)
- Man Utd 1-1 Bayern (Cup)
- Man Utd 4-1 Aston Villa (Lge)
- Man Utd 0-3 Man City (Lge)
- West Ham 0-2 Man Utd (Lge)
Yet one pundit called United’s performance “very, very good”, despite the fact that they spent the majority of the first half camped on their own 18-yard line, while Bayern Munich seemed disappointed to have left what was, until recently, one of Europe’s most daunting away grounds with a draw and an away goal.
Yes, the German champions failed to test David de Gea from close range. Sure, Danny Welbeck had the game’s best untaken chance. But despite the absences of Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger through suspension for the second leg, Bayern remain overwhelming favourites to progress.
First-choice centre-back Dante would have returned in place of Martinez anyway, while Toni Kroos is likely to drop deeper to replace Schweini. Mario Götze will probably fill the playmaker’s berth. It hardly weakens die Roten - whatever Pep says. Perhaps the Spaniard is still reeling from what he saw on Saturday as his weakened side lost their 53-match unbeaten run with a 1-0 defeat at Augsburg on Saturday.
United will take some comfort from the fact Bayern have failed to win their last three Champions League games against English opposition at the Allianz Arena, but not a lot. Still in the tie they may be; in pole position David Moyes’ beleaguered side most certainly are not.
Key battle: Wayne Rooney vs Philipp Lahm
Lahm was immaculate in the first leg, with a 100% success rate in defensive tackles and interceptions, as seen in the graphic below. But with Schweinsteiger missing alongside him and the more attack-minded Kroos likely to replace him, Wayne Rooney may get more joy in the ‘transitions’ as United try to nick a goal on the break through the pace of Welbeck. Rooney received the ball from Marouane Fellaini more than any other player in the first leg, mainly in central areas.
If Lahm can block off this supply, United will struggle to relieve the pressure and need to look elsewhere for an away goal. But the skipper will need help in Schweini’s absence – something United could exploit.
Moyes declared himself “happy” with United’s performance in the first leg but will know Bayern are unlikely to be so toothless in the return, even if keeping it tight and nicking a goal remains his team’s best hope.
Pep Guardiola seemed strangely rattled at Old Trafford, preferring to dwell on Schweinsteiger’s suspension-clinching second yellow card and United’s “handball” tactics rather than the positives. His side didn’t make the most of their possession, however, so Guardiola might be tempted to replace Thomas Müller with recognised centre-forward Mario Mandzukic from the start.
Facts and figures
- Man United have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their 9 CL games this season; no side has kept more.
- Since the 1999 final, Man United have won just 1 of their 7 CL encounters with Bayern Munich (W1 D3 L3).
- United have scored in each of their last 15 CL meetings with German clubs, but the last one to stop them scoring was Bayern in March 2002.
- Franck Ribery has created more goalscoring chances than any other player in the Champions League this season (23).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
United to score, but Bayern to score more. 3-1.
Bayern Munich vs Man United LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone