This Manchester United preview and prediction is courtesy of Aayush Dureha
One may be mistaken if he thinks that the Champions League draw has been kind to David Moyes in his first season at Old Trafford. For Manchester United to have a group with teams such as Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad can be termed tricky at the very least.
The United manager has been cautioned about the upcoming European fixtures by his fellow Scotsman, Sir Alex Ferguson. Moyes said: “After the draw I phoned Sir Alex and he said he thought it was one of the hardest draws United had ever had in the Champions League. And if it’s coming from him, it must be tough!” So what exactly is in store for Manchester United on Tuesday?
Managed by the ex-Liverpool defender Sami Hyppia, Leverkusen has become a fairly competitive outfit in the past couple of seasons. They finished third in the German top flight last season and just one point behind Borussia Dortmund. In a league where quality of football is vastly improving season after season, that is hugely impressive.
Bayer Leverkusen lost their star youngster André Schürrle to Chelsea over the summer but the threat that their rest of the offense possesses cannot be underestimated. They are led extremely well from the midfield by their vice-captain, Lars Bender, who has been linked in the past with some of the European football giants, including Manchester United. Sami Hyppia will be well familiar with the setting and atmosphere at Old Trafford and will have his troops mentally prepared for the occasion.
Manchester United will need to put on a much improved show than they did over the weekend. For a club that is expected to challenge the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, it is of massive importance that the team secures maximum points in all its home games. Therefore, United must attack and maintain its shape while facing some fast-paced onslaught from the Germans.
The brief introduction of Fellaini against Palace gave a glimpse of what one might expect from the United midfield this season. He partnered Carrick extremely well and looked comfortable around Evra, Januzaj, Carrick and Rooney. Undoubtedly, his huge presence will be required by United on Tuesday. The challenge for David Moyes lies in selecting his wingers and strikers deftly.
Over the past few weeks, the name that most United supporters have had on top their minds is that of Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese playmaker has spent a couple of season in the Bundesliga and will find himself fairly comfortable against a familiar opposition. He is expected to recover from flu and play a major role for United from the start.
Another player who can add spice and creativity to Manchester United’s attack is Nani. The Portuguese winger, who has just signed a new contract, has shown glimpses of his talent on the biggest stage in European football, but is yet to show any sort of domination he is capable of. With Kagawa and Nani supporting the main striking duo of Van Persie and Rooney, United has the ability to pose some serious threat to Leverkusen’s defense.The attacking midfield trio of Kagawa, Nani and Rooney can interchange their positions constantly and keep on unsettling the shape of the Leverkusen defense.
Fabio Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Nani Rooney Kagawa
For Manchester United to safely progress to the knock-out stages, all home games are must win games. It may be difficult for some of the players to focus on Tuesday given the importance of the upcoming Manchester derby, but David Moyes has to ensure that his team gets a positive result out of a potentially tightly contested game.
Prediction: Manchester United 2 Bayer Leverkusen 1
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