We are in for a dramatic finale to the action in Group B in this season’s Champions League with three clubs still in with a chance of qualification to the last 16. Two of them, Wolfsburg and Manchester United, meet at the VfL Wolfsburg Arena on Tuesday evening.
WOLFSBURG LOOKING TO ADVANCE TO THE KNOCK-OUT PHASE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Tuesday night’s hosts have never progressed beyond the group stages of the Champions League; A win, or even a draw against the Premier League giants will change all that for coach Dieter Hecking and his men. A 2-0 win on matchday five in freezing temperatures in Moscow against CSKA, has took the German side to the brink of the last 16. Now they need one more good performance at home, where they have won their previous two group games without conceding a goal, to continue their campaign in February when the competition returns after the winter break. Preparation for the match has not gone smoothly however, after succumbing to a heart-breaking last minute defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Hecking must now get his team focused on their biggest match of the season.
UNITED’S LACK OF GOALS COULD BE COSTLY
When Louis van Gaal took over at Manchester United his first task was to get the club back into the Champions League. With that successfully completed, his next job was to ensure the club progressed to the knock-out stages of this season’s competition. That is now in the balance after a bitterly disappointing 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven on matchday five, has given the Red Devils a huge mountain to climb in Germany on Tuesday. Another shut-out at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday against West Ham United left fans unhappy with the Dutch coach, who seems to be doing his best to alienate the very people he needs on his side right now. The bookmakers are not confident on his chances either, currently quoting them at *1.80 on the best football betting sites to come through their German ordeal. Elimination is unthinkable but the reality is, unless someone can start putting the ball in the net, it could become a reality.
Wolfsburg will welcome back Brazilian central defender Dante who was suspended for the weekend defeat to Dortmund. His partner Luis Gustavo however, remains doubtful. Striker Bas Dost was only a substitute on Saturday and he too should return to the starting line-up. He is priced at *2.50 on the best online sports betting sites to be an anytime scorer on Tuesday.
Manchester United have major injury concerns ahead of the trip to Germany with captain Wayne Rooney already ruled out and French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin also missing the game, after picking up a hip injury at the weekend. The vastly experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger will partner Michael Carrick in midfield with Marouane Fellaini retaining his place in the side in the absence of Rooney.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Wolfsburg (4-4-2) Benaglio; Schäfer, Dante, Naldo, Träsch; Draxler, Arnold, Guilavogui, Caligiuri; Dost, Kruse
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Young, Blind, Smalling, Darmian; Schweinsteiger, Carrick; Lingard, Fellani, Mata; Martial
HEAD TO HEAD
The Red Devils hold the upper hand in this fixture; having won the last three times the two have met each other. Louis van Gaal’s side have now drawn seven of their last 10 matches in all competitions. In the reverse fixture earlier in the group, United won 2-1 thanks to a Juan Mata penalty and a rare Chris Smalling strike. Wolfsburg’s last home meeting with an English club was the 2-0 defeat against Everton in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.
Wolfsburg 2.37 Draw 3.40 Manchester United 3.25
*odds courtesy of Bet 365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)