Manchester United’s clash against Wolfsburg is a must-win game for the Red Devils and their Champions League aspirations.
Wolfsburg’s visit to the Theatre of Dreams gives the Red Devils the perfect chance to get their Champions League campaign back on track following their CL Group B defeat in Eindhoven against Eredivisie champions PSV.
Wolfsburg won in Moscow on the same night and a win in Manchester tomorrow night will double their advantage to six points over United.
Louis Van Gaal’s men have responded brilliantly since the PSV match and enjoyed a winning run that’s taken them to the top of the Premier League for the first time in two years.
United have won their last three games and hit three goals in each – largely thanks to the impact teenager Anthony Martial has had since his record signing from Monaco.
Online football tipsters may also point to the quality of United’s recent opposition and the fact that Wolfsburg will provide much sterner opposition than Sunderland, Ipswich and Southampton.
The German’s sit above United in their Champions League group B having won their first match against CSKA 1-0 and are adjusting to life without star man Kevin De Bruyne following his move to United’s rivals Manchester City.
Wolfsburg bit by Lewandowski
Wolfsburg sit fourth in the Bundesliga having won three and drawn three of their first seven domestic matches – their only defeat of the campaign to date coming last week when Robert Lewandowski came off the bench for Bayern Munich to hit five past them in ten incredible minutes.
They have won only one of their last three games but victory for Wolfsburg would give them a six point advantage over United in CL Group B – a fact giving many football tipsters good reason to describe it as a make-or-break match for Van Gaal’s Champions League aspirations.
The last time the teams met was in the same competition in December 2009 – a Michael Owen hat-trick securing 1-3 away win for Alex Ferguson’s United at Wolfsburg. Their home match in September that season saw United win 2-1 so the question is if the latest encounter will be third time lucky for the Bundesliga side?
Key to this will be how Wolfsburg’s defender Dante handles the combined threat of Martial, Juan Mata, Memphis and Wayne Rooney – a front line whose potency has shot United to the top of the EPL. Apart from the reverse at PSV, United have scored three goals in each of their last four domestic games.
Blind v Bas Dost
At the other end, Danny Blind’s developing partnership with Chris Smalling will be tested by Wolfsburg’s hitman Bas Dost who has made an impressive start to this season with five goals.
Blind has won plaudits since his move from midfield to the heart of United’s defence – particularly his ability to carve open teams with killer passes.
Intriguing subplots to the game will be Bastian Schweinsteiger’s first match against German opposition since leaving Bayern Munich this summer – if picked by Van Gaal – as well as the return to England of ex-Chelsea striker Andre Schurle.
By: Joe Cahal