Manchester United’s European fate is on the line as they entertain Bayern Munich at Old Trafford in their final Champions League Group A outing on Tuesday.
Erik ten Hag’s side lost 3-0 to Bournemouth in a shock upset at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday, sending shockwaves through the football community.
Only days after being named the division’s ‘Manager of the Month,’ the Dutchman oversaw United’s worst performance of the season, with the Evening Standard claiming his future at the club remains safe.
However, with high-profile clashes against Bayern and Liverpool waiting in the wings, the 53-year-old’s career in Manchester is at a crossroads.
In addition to suffering another embarrassing home defeat, the ex-Ajax manager could fail to secure further European fixtures unless the Red Devils upset the odds in this mouth-watering fixture.
United’s bid to make it out of the Champions League group stage is out of their hands following a dismal Group A campaign (W1, D1, L3).
They must beat the Bavarians and hope the other Group A’s encounter between Copenhagen and Galatasaray ends as a draw to progress into the round of 16.
A point here would be useless if the Danish outfit triumph at Parken Stadium and would deny United a chance of switching to the Europa League knockout play-off round.
Old Trafford, once an unbreachable fortress, has recently become a happy hunting ground for visiting sides, with three of Man Utd’s last five home matches producing identical 3-0 defeats (W1).
That same defensive frailties have plagued United’s European campaign as Ten Hag’s men have conceded at least three goals in four of their five Champions League outings this term, including a 3-3 draw at Galatasaray in the previous round.
Despite putting on a decent attacking performance in the reverse fixture in September, the Red Devils slumped to a 4-3 defeat at the Allianz Stadium, extending their losing streak against Bayern to three games.
Reversing that trend would require Man United to plug their defensive leaks and shut out a high-flying German side they’ve failed to fend off across their last six Champions League meetings.
Despite already qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage with two games to spare, Bayern will be out to atone for a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Bundesliga strugglers Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend.
Upon his side’s abysmal showing at Deutsche Bank Park, which led to the Bavarians’ first league defeat in 2023/24 and saw them drop four points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen, Thomas Tuchel cut a frustrated character.
Speaking to the press in the build-up to Tuesday’s showdown, the former Chelsea boss warned Man Utd that ex-Tottenham Hotspur talisman Harry Kane is keen to land a knockout blow on his old foes.
Casemiro is back in training but will unlikely make the matchday squad. But this game comes too early for long-term absentees Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Amad Diallo and Tyrell Malacia.
There’s an outside chance for Mason Mount to make the bench while Marcus Rashford returns to the fold after serving a one-game ban against Galatasaray.
As for Bayern, Serge Gnabry, Matthijs de Ligt and Bouna Sarr won’t travel with the rest of the squad due to injuries.
Teenage sensation Jamal Musiala should regain his place in the starting XI after being rested at the weekend, with the same going for veteran ace Thomas Muller.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Sofyan Amrabat; Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Alejandro Garnacho; Rasmus Hojlund.
Bayern Munich potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Noussair Mazzraoui, Dayot Upamecano, Kim Min-jae, Alphonso Davies; Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka; Jamal Musiala, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane; Harry Kane.
To put the size of Man Utd’s task in context, Bayern come into proceedings having avoided defeat in a competition-record 39 group-stage matches (W35, D4).
It’s debatable whether the Germans drew 0-0 against Copenhagen last time out on purpose, yet that result arrested their 17-game winning run in the Champions League group phase.
United will have to show the same defensive resilience to boost their chances of posting their first Champions League win against the Bavarians since 2010.
But that’s far-fetched, based on their recent home performances. As such, we expect a flurry of goals, with a draw emerging as the likeliest outcome.
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