Resurgent Man United take on favourites Bayern in Champions League quarters
Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: Expectations are high at Old Trafford, as Manchester United travel to Munich to face all devouring Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final return tie. Reasons are plenty.
After a horrendous season, the most successful club in England, surprised everyone including the Chosen One himself as the Red Devils forced the reigning European champions to share the spoils at Greater Manchester. Suddenly, David Moyes started to look like the real chosen one. Credit goes to Sir Alex Ferguson, of course.
But the 1-1 draw at home was a lucky result for United, considering the manner in which the visiting German champions dominated the match, with their newly adopted possession-game under uber-classy Pep Guardiola. The Bavarians had more than 70 percent possession, and created more than a dozen clear attempts on the goal.
The resilience shown during the match, in a way, helped David Moyes and his boys to upend their poor season and in the subsequent match, they swamped Newcastle United 4-0, courtesy Juan Mata`s brilliance. The Spaniard scored twice in a space of 10 minutes, to set up the moral boosting win. In fact, the St. James Park victory meant that Manchester United, despite fighting for an European place in seventh place, recorded best away results in the league this season.
However, when the imposing Allianz Arena lights up its signature mosaic all white tonight, the Red Devils will take on a different Bayern Munich outfit. The Germans have hardly provided any elbow-room to their guests in Munich. And it`s in this arena that the Bavarians have stamped their continued dominance and announced the rise of a global football power by winning the German title in record time, for two successive seasons. Also, a hugely partisan crowd will buoy the home team, in the very manner in which the United supporters have welcomed them at Manchester.
The belief in the Manchester United ranks is that if they can do at home, without their top marksman – Robin van Persie, they can repeat that performance on foreign turf too. Giving their hope a realistic boost is the availability of enigmatic Wayne Rooney, despite niggling injury concerns. The England front-man`s influence on the field may well prove the difference between the two sides. But, the touring party will be without the services of their recent acquisition Juan Mata. The former Chelsea talisman is cup-tied. It is also believed that both Rafael and Marouane Fellaini may miss the all-important clash due to fitness issues.
For Bayern, the mercurial Bastian Schweinsteiger – who scored the equaliser at Old Trafford, will miss the match, thanks to a caution in the first leg. The German international, will be joined by Javi Martinez, who is also serving suspension. Guardiola will also need to negotiate with the absence of injured Thiago Alcantara, Diego Contento, Tom Starke, Lukas Raeder and Holger Badstuber. But still, Bayern have enough fire-power in Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze, Arjen Robben... to name a few.
In their previous meeting in the competition four seasons ago, the Germans had won by the virtue of an away goal. And again, Bayern start favourites to win the match. But a resurgent Manchester United cannot be written-off.
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