27th November, 2013; 19:45 BST
Manchester United travel to Germany to face Bayer Leverkusen in their next Champions League group stage fixture at the BayArena. The reverse fixture between these two sides ended in a 4-2 victory for the home side as Wayne Rooney scored a brace. David Moyes would want a repeat of that performance as they look to book their place in the next round of this tournament.
Manchester United’s last visit to this stadium was back in group stages of 2002 Champions League. The game ended 1-2 in favour of United with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring a brace. Dimitar Berbatov, who would go on to sign for the English club, scored the solitary goal for Leverkusen. Despite that loss both Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen qualified from that group, which also contained Maccabi Haifa and Olympiakos.
Team news and tactics
Bayer Leverkusen have made a wonderful start to their Bundesliga campaign and are currently second in the league table – four points behind league leaders Bayern Munich. They have lost only two of their 13 matches so far and have the second best defensive record in what has been a high scoring season so far. They are yet to lose a game at the BayArena this season and have and have been held to draw only once, by Bayern Munich. Leverkusen are coming into this game on the back of a 1-0 victory against Hertha Berlin the league as Stefan Kießling’s first half strike proved to be the winner. The win took them over Dortmund in the points table and now they will look to retain that spot.
Leverkusen’s European campaign didn’t get off to good start as they stumbled to a 4-2 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but have bounced back since then with victories against Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk. They are currently second in the points table – just one point behind Manchester United at the top. This group is still wide open and three teams have good chance of making it through to the next round. A positive result against United at home will put them in a strong position for their last match against Real Sociedad. Leverkusen were held to a goalless draw by Shakhtar in their last match, and Sami Hyypiä will be happy about the fact that his side have now conceded only one goal in their last three Champions League encounter after conceding four in the opening day.
Sami Hyypiä has a long list of injured players to contain with ahead of this fixture. Stefan Reinartz, Roberto Hilbert, Sebastian Boenisch and Andres Palop are all out of contention for this game. But perhaps their biggest worry would be the absence of Sidney Sam. The 25-year-old winger, who has been in blistering form this season scoring seven goals and providing five assists in 12 starts, was withdrawn after just four minutes in the match against Hertha Berlin with a thigh injury. He is absence could be a big factor in the outcome of this game.
Hyypiä is expected to make only one change to the side he fielded against Hertha Berlin this weekend. Jens Hegeler will replace Sam on the right wing, while Philipp Wollscheid is likely to retain his place in the starting line-up ahead of Emir Spahic after produced a wonderful performance against Hertha Berlin.
Expected starting line-up: Leno (GK); Donati, Toprak, Wollscheid, Can; Rolfes, Bender, Castro; Son, Kießling, Hegeler
Manchester United made a slow start to their season under new manager David Moyes, but slowly but surely the former Everton manager is finding his feet at the club. United are currently sixth in the league table – seven points behind league leaders Arsenal. They are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions and recently beat Arsenal at Old Trafford in the league. But David Moyes was left disappointed with the way his team dropped points in their last game against Cardiff as Kim Bo-Kyung scored a later equalizer for the home side. It was a good opportunity for United to close the gap at the top as Liverpool dropped points against Everton.
In contrast, they started their European campaign on a bright note as they defeated Bayer Leverkusen at home and are yet to lose a game in the Champions League this season. But two draws away from home, against Shakhtar and Sociedad has left the group wide open and United are yet to grab a big lead over the chasing pack. They are just three points above third placed side Shakhtar. United cannot afford to lose this match as they will find themselves in a very difficult situation. A win against Leverkusen will book their place in the next round though.
David Moyes will be without Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Rafael in this game as they are yet to recover from their respective injuries. Marouane Fellaini is suspended for this game after being dismissed in the last match against Real Sociedad. Moyes has also revealed that both Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic will be unavailable for this match as well. All these injuries and suspension has left Moyes with limited choice to pick his side for this important clash, specially in the middle of the park. There are still concerns about the fitness of Shinji Kagawa and Phil Jones ahead of this fixture – both of them missed the Premier League fixture against Cardiff.
David Moyes will make only one change to the side he fielded against Cardiff. Ryan Giggs will partner Cleverley in the pivot ahead of the defence in the absence of Fellaini and Carrick, while Evans and Hernandez will their place in the starting eleven.
Expected starting line-up: De Gea (GK); Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Cleverley, Giggs; Valencia, Rooney, Januzaj; Hernandez
Players to watch-out for: Heung-Min Son (Bayer Leverkusen); Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Manchester United