Old Trafford, Manchester
Wednesday, 30th September, 2015,
After claiming the top spot in the Barclays Premier League, Manchester United look to carry forward their momentum into their European campaign. Having lost their first fixture away to PSV Eindhoven, the Red Devils will be eager to return to winning ways. Dieter Hecking’s Wolfsburg have recovered after a shocking start to the season, climbing all the way up to fourth place in the Bundesliga rankings.
Team News and Tactics
Manchester United are unlikely to change much following their 3-0 home win against Southampton. Manager Louis Van Gaal was forced to make changes in light of recent injuries to Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo, apart from which he has a full strength squad to chose from.
The Red Devils will be without left-back Luke Shaw after he suffered a horrendous double leg break against PSV Eindhoven . The defender was reduced to tears as he left the field after enduring Hector Moreno’s horrific tackle and will be out for a minimum of 6 months. Van Gaal’s experimentation with Matteo Darmian at left back is likely to continue, with the Italian impressing on his opposite side against Sunderland. The fire and ice combination of Daley Blind and Chris Smalling is unlikely to change, with Antonio Valencia almost certain to retain his spot at right-back.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will retain his spot in midfield, with Morgan Schneiderling likely to partner him, in order to counter the threat of Gustavo and Draxler from the middle.
Ashley Young looked to have an immediate impact, after coming on for Memphis Depay on saturday, providing the crucial assist for Juan Mata’s goal. Van Gaal would be wise to rest the young Dutchman ahead of a challenging set of fixtures in October, with Young pairing with Mata on the wings.
Wayne Rooney and Antony Martial showed glimpses of what they were capable of together, during the weekend. The Frenchman helped end Rooney’s premier league goal-drought, providing yet another dimension to his already surprising gameplay.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Valencia; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Rooney, Young; Martial.
Dieter Hecking’s chargers were held 1-1 on the weekend by a buoyant Hannover, exposing frailties in both their midfield and defence. Having been hit by the hurricane of Robert Lewandowski 5 goals, Wolfsburg have not recovered aptly, with both injuries to defence and an unstable system of play, stemming their flow.
Diego Benaglio will start in goal, with the Brazilian pairing of Naldo and Dante ahead of him. The former Bayern Munich defender will have his work cut out for him against the strong, athletic and young Martial, while Naldo is likely to deal with Rooney. Christian Tr sch will deputise for the injured Vierinha at right-back, while Ricardo Rodriguez will retain his spot on the left.
Wolfsburg boss Dieter Hecking has admitted that it ‘could be tight’ when asked wether Luiz Gustavo would be fit enough to play Manchester United. The Brazilian’s abscence was felt against Hannover, with Guilavogui unable to anchor the midfield. Hecking’s use of Max Kruse and talisman Julian Draxler in advanced midfield positions is likely to continue, with Andre Schurlle and Daniel Caligiuri occupying the positions on the wing.
Bas Dost is likely to continue up front as the lone striker.
Probable Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Benaglio; Tr sch, Dante, Benaglio, Rodriguez; Guilavogui, Draxler, Kruse, Schurrle, Caligiuri, Dost
- The last time both team locked horns, Manchester United won courtesy of a Micahel Owen Hattrick
- The Red Devils have won 10 of their last 14 Champions League games against German opposition
- Wolfsburg have lost all three of their trips to England in European competition, conceding eight goals in the process
Player to watch out for:
The team captain’s influence and seniority were sorely missing in Manchester United’s opening game against PSV, as the Red Devils failed to break down a dogged Eindhoven defence. With the striker’s record goal draught ended (quite fortunately) against Sunderland, Rooney will be determined to put his best foot forward for his club’s European campaign.
While not as influential as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rooney’s contributions for Manchester United in Europe have largely flown under the radar. For many matches, both crucial and inconsequential, the captain always finds an extra gear- something that Manchester United will need desperately against their tricky opposition
Manchester United 2 – Wolfsburg 0
With Wayne Rooney back in the fray, Manchester United are likely to be a more driven unit. Their recent goalscoring form has provided a much needed boost to their formerly flailing attack, with the likes of Antony Martial and Memphis slowly coming into their own.
Wolfsburg will always pose a stern test, but if Manchster United overun their lightweight midfield and make-shift defence, a win seems most likely.