Hope springs eternal
David John looks ahead to tonight's Champions League quarter-final second leg between Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
- Related Content
The percieved wisdom before last week's first leg was that the defending champions would roll into Old Trafford, ease to a comfortable victory and start looking ahead to the last four of the competition. But United have given themselves a fighting chance of progress themselves courtesy of a 1-1 draw and perhaps boss David Moyes will stick on a DVD of the 1999 final of this competition when they defied the odds late in the day in the Nou Camp to come from a goal down to lift the trophy against Bayern. Moyes and his side have found some form lately and perhaps the belief is increasing within the camp that they can pull off a shock at the Bundesliga champions.
A thumping header from Nemanja Vidic gave United the lead in the first leg which was later cancelled out by Bastien Schweinsteiger and that clearly makes the Germans overwhelming favourites to progress with an away goal in the bag. Schweinsteiger will be missing after being given a late red card although the way they dominated possession for long periods, particularly in the first half, suggests their hard work will pay off with more than a solitary goal on their own patch. But just ask Arsenal - Bayern are not totally immune from a slip-up or two in Bavaria and that could give Moyes some optimism that he as well can get enough of a result to see them through.
Wayne Rooney suffered a toe injury in the first leg against Bayern but he appeared to have no adverse reaction to the injury and seemed in good spirits during training. Defender Rafael, who has been out with a hamstring injury, did not feature while midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who complained of feeling dizzy during the 4-0 Barclays Premier League win at St James' Park, was another absentee. Jonny Evans, returning from a calf injury, was involved fresh from playing for the under-21s on Monday as Patrice Evra (knee), Ryan Giggs (groin) and Ashley Young (hand) also took part despite injury concerns. Juan Mata, who did train, misses the game through ineligibility while Robin van Persie is also out with a knee injury. Pep Guardiola said he only had 14 first-team players to choose from for the match. Xherdan Shaqiri, Thiago Alcantara, Diego Contento, Tom Starke, Lukas Raeder and Holger Badstuber are injured while Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez are suspended after being cautioned in the first leg.
Players To Watch
Arjen Robben - The Dutch wing wizard talked up Bayern Munich's chances hugely ahead of the first leg and he probably feels more than a little disappointed that United are still in the tie. He had a number of opportunities to get on the scoresheet at Old Trafford and forced David De Gea into a fine save with the score at 0-0. So much of the inventive play from the hosts goes through Robben and if they are to come out on top, then it will be no shock to see him a big influence over the 90 minutes.
Danny Welbeck - The striker tends to polarise opinion somewhat. He can be a real handful for any defence with his pace but on the flip side of the coin, he is guilty of squandering some gilt-edge chances. That was perfectly illustrated in the opening leg as he closed in on goal after poaching the ball but an indecisve attempt to chip the ball over Manuel Neuer was thwarted. He still provides United a tremendous outlet but simply can't afford to squander anything that comes his way in what may well be a limited number of opportunities on the night in Bavaria.
Sky Bet Odds
They may have let down favourite backers last week in Manchester, but Bayern are expected to claim a victory on the night and are heavily odds-on at 2/9. I can't remember ever seeing Manchester United at 11/1 but that is their current price if you fancy an upset victory on the night while the draw can be backed at 5/1. Bayern are 1/8 to book their place in the semi-finals and the visitors are 8/1.
This is a really fascinating encounter that could go either way despite the Germans being a very short price to keep up their quest for back-to-back titles. A fortnight ago I would not have given Moyes and his side a prayer but the tide is very gradually turning although they have yet to show they can get the better of a side of this calibre. But confidence is gradually returning and the pressure on Bayern will be tremendous - a factor that United might be able to pray on. There will be chances on the night for the visitors but they are going to have to take them and the fact that Wayne Rooney has trained in the build-up will give them a boost in that area.