Manchester United face a difficult challenge when they host holders Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final on Tuesday (19:45 BST, live on ITV).
United come into the match on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 win at home to Aston Villa, but it has generally been a difficult season for the Premier League holders. They are seventh in the table with 54 points from 16 wins, six draws and 10 defeats.
David Moyes’ side progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League by winning Group A ahead of Bayer Leverkusen. They were on the verge of elimination after losing 2-0 away to Olympiakos in the first leg of their round of 16 tie but rallied to overturn the deficit in the return leg at Old Trafford, winning 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Robin Van Persie.
Moyes has come under increased pressure following recent home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City and looked to be in for another difficult afternoon on Saturday when Villa went ahead inside the opening quarter hour. His side responded well, though, with a double from Wayne Rooney and further goals from Juan Mata and Javier Hernandez sealing victory.
While Moyes will have been pleased by the attacking contributions of Mata, Rooney and Shinji Kagawa (pictured above), his team were less impressive in defence, with Villa spurning a couple of presentable chances inside the first half hour. United have struggled to deal with teams who attack them directly with pace throughout the season and that was again evident on Saturday.
Man Utd will definitely be without the cup-tied Mata, injured Van Persie (knee) and suspended Patrice Evra for this Champions League match. Antonio Valencia (knee), Chris Smalling (hamstring), Johnny Evans (calf) and Rafael (knock) are all doubtful.
The bookies don’t expect Man Utd to get past Bayern Munich and the current 33/1 quotes in the Champions League betting odds about Moyes’ side winning the tournament attest to that.
Bayern come into the match on the back of 18 matches undefeated in all competitions, including Saturday’s 3-3 draw at home to Hoffenheim. They wrapped up the Bundesliga title last week and currently sit on 78 points from 25 wins, three draws and no defeats.
Pep Guardiola’s side topped Group D ahead of Manchester City, with 15 points from five wins and one draw, before progressing to the last eight courtesy of a relatively comfortable 3-1 aggregate victory over Arsenal. They won 2-0 in London before playing out a 1-1 draw in Munich, dominating possession on both occasions.
The degree to which Bayern control the ball is the most easily identifiable difference between Guardiola’s side and that of Jupp Heynckes, which won the treble, including the Champions League, last season. Control is everything to Guardiola, but while Bayern may not be quite as viscerally thrilling as last season they are still an attractive attacking side in full flow.
Mario Mandzukic leads Bayern’s scoring charts in the Bundesliga but Mario Goetze, Frank Riberty, Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller have each contributed eight or more goals and there has been a similar spread during the club’s Champions League campaign. Bayern are also solid defensively and possess one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Manuel Neuer.
Guardiola rested a number of first team regulars for the weekend draw with Hoffenheim and has an almost full-strength squad to pick from for this Champions League match. The main absentee is central defender Dante, who will miss the visit to Old Trafford through suspension after accumulating his third yellow card of the competition during the second leg with Arsenal.
Man Utd vs Bayern Munich Betting Tips
Bayern eliminated United on away goals following a 4-4 aggregate draw when they last met in this competition back in 2010 and also triumphed when they met in the quarter finals of 2001. The teams shared two draws in the group stage of the 2001/02 competition, while Man Utd did, of course, defeat Bayern with two late goals in the final of 1999.
United were impressive in their victory over Aston Villa, but still have big problems in defence and midfield. Comprehensive defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks provide little hope for them getting a result against a side as accomplished as Bayern.
The German champions have lost just twice in competitive action this season and have very few weaknesses. Their unrelenting dominance of possession is incredibly draining for their opponents and they have a large variety of high-quality attacking options capable of taking advantage when opportunities come their way.
- Back Bayern Munich to be winning at both half time and full time @ 6/5 with Paddy Power.
- Muller is a player who seemed ill-suited to a Guardiola side, but he has proved his worth with a solid goals per 90 minutes record in both domestic and European competition. He scored in both group stage matches against Manchester City and once against Arsenal in the round of 16. Back Thomas Muller to score at anytime @ 11/10 with Stan James.
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