Ding Ding Ding!
The bout in Manchester ended with both sides level, a battered underdog Manchester United landing unexpected blows on heavyweight champions. The next round begins with the belt-holders still possessing the upper hand, although one more blow and the champ could be down for the count.
A fortress of solitude in the Bundesliga, the arching walls of Allianz Arena have not shielded the Rekordmeister in the Champions League, the Bavarians amassing a 2-1-1 record thus far at home in European competition. That being said, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus have all fallen at the hands of Bayern in the past two years.
United look to follow in the path of Arsenal and Manchester City before them, forcing Bayern into a battle of brinksmanship. With suspect results fresh in their minds, how the Bayern players will respond to adversity could determine the result.
The Match (11th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Jonas Eriksson
FC Bayern: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L – 2 YC
Assistants: Mathias Klasenius, Daniel Wärnmark
Fourth Official: Daniel Gustavsson
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Television and Streaming
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Manchester United (1-1) Bayern München | Old Trafford (UEFA Champions League)
MUFC: Nemanja Vidic (58')
FCB: Bastian Schweinsteiger (67')
UEFA Champions League: 3 W, 5 D, 2 L
1. Giovane Elber, FCB; Nani, MUFC; Ivica Olić, FCB; Paulo Sergio, FCB – 2
Biggest Victory: 2-1 (April 15, 2002, Munich Germany; March 30, 2010, Munich, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 2-3 (April 7, 2010, Manchester, England)
The one constant in a sea of inconsistent results is the recent propensity for Bayern to surrender goals to their opposition. The Rekordmeister have ceded at least one goal in eight of the last nine games, but Jérôme Boateng and Dante have partnered up during only twice during that stretch.
The duo will reunite in the heart of Bayern's defense in the second leg, technically out of necessity. Javier Martínez is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, but Pep Guardiola would not pick his defender project with his primary center backs available. Dante restores the instinctual experience Bayern has lacked in the past few weeks, taking the burden off of Boateng as the gatekeeper of chances.
The flexible front Guardiola wanted to run circles around a hampered defense could not maneuver the way that he wanted. Crosses sailed into the box like cannon balls, but just bounced off the sides of the tight Moyes ship. When Mario Mandžukić came on, the attack penetrated the penalty area in a different and effective way.
Manchester United's experienced back is rather good aerially, but Mandzukic can single-handedly over come that despite not having the best statistical record in the air. The Croatian has scored against the top aerial-duel teams in the Bundesliga, tall physical defenders no match for the ricochet-master. He is the best equipped to do battle with Vidic in the area, with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben providing him the proper service.
Philipp Lahm will command the center of the park with the suspension of Bastian Schweinsteiger, pairing with compatriot Toni Kroos in holding midfield. Kroos has dropped closer and closer to the center of the park, relinquishing the play-making role in attack to the likes of Thomas Müller and Mario Götze.
With Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh), Thiago Alcântara (knee) and Tom Starke (elbow) joining the suspended in unavailable options, reserves will fill the rest of the team sheet. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Mitchell Weiser, and Ylli Sallahi all got time at the weekend, with Leopold Zingerle the Manuel Neuer insurance policy.
The team may be a bit thin, but all that matters is the players on the field, and those are still pretty good.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Franck Ribery – Mario Götze – Arjen Robben
Toni Kroos – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Leopold Zingerle, Ylli Sallahi, Daniel van Buyten, Mitchell Weiser, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Thomas Müller, Claudio Pizarro
A match that seemed to have everything in Newcastle was missing one part, Wayne Rooney. The England international was becoming the nucleus of attack again with the injury to Robin van Persie, but David Moyes held out Rooney with a toe bruise.
Initial reports had Rooney doubtful for the second leg, but Mark Ogden of the Telegraph is reporting that Rooney will at least travel to Munich. Not having Rooney in the side would make Danny Welbeck by his lonesome, making his terrific performance seem like an anomaly rather than a sign of growth.
Moyes has shown a shine to Ryan Giggs in the champions league, deploying his player-coach to keep the midfield organized. His presence assisted United in transition from stout defense to pacey attack. Shinji Kagawa will likely remain on the bench despite his success against Bayern, but perhaps Moyes reserve him to change the pace of the match as in the first leg.
While the deep defense might have been petty and conservative, there is no doubt that the tactic worked in Old Trafford. Moyes used Valencia at the weekend as a fullback, but with the injury at the weekend to Ashley Young, Valencia will likely rejoin the attack. Phil Jones performed what Moyes asked of him a week ago, flanking Rio Ferdinand like a son shadows his father, but a change in tactic from Guardiola could put more under pressure.
The Red Devils will be hard pressed to limit Bayern for a second time, but they could have the experienced personnel to do so.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3)
Danny Welbeck – Wayne Rooney – Antonio Valencia
Patrice Evra – Nemanja Vidic – Rio Ferdinand – Phil Jones
The task for Bayern is rather simple, for if they prevent a Manchester United goal, they move on to the semifinals. That being said, Guardiola will want a goal of his own, and Mandžukić in the lineup could provide that breakthrough. United will not bend easily, but they could just enough to make the difference.