Manchester United will be looking to get an early lead in Group H of the UEFA Champions League as they meet fellow Matchday 1 winners RB Leipzig on Wednesday.
Manchester United replicated their Paris magic to lodge another away European win at Paris Saint-Germain. The Red Devils did have somewhat of a lacklustre game during the weekend, with a 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea. However, morale will be high in the camp, with focus on securing qualification to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League as soon as possible.
RB Leipzig recorded a calm, collected win against Istanbul Basaksehir. But, Julian Nagelsmann will be looking towards the next two Champions League games as a parameter to what will be needed for the second half of the Group Stage. The Bundesliga heavyweights are currently leading the domestic league and are one of two undefeated sides in the league.
The two sides will be meeting each other for the first time and it will be interesting to see the battle between two clubs with contrasting histories. Let us take a closer look at the respective squads.
Team News & Tactics
Phil Jones, Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo have not been registered by Manchester United and will hence, surely miss out. Elsewhere, Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard are still working on their respective fitness on the sidelines.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen the three-man backline work and is likely to stick for it to counter the attacking threat posed by the youthful RB Leipzig side. David de Gea was immense in the win over PSG and should retain his place between the posts. We should see Axel Tuanzebe return to the starting eleven after being rested against Chelsea. Alex Telles should also make his return.
Victor Lindelof is likely to partner Axel Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw in central defence, with Harry Maguire being awarded rest and dropped for tactical reasons. Lindelof has a bit more pace in him compared to the club captain and is likely to start in order to enable the team to play higher up the field.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles will be the designated wing-backs, with a midfield pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay currently preferred by Ole. Bruno Fernandes should start in the hole, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as the duo upfront. Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek will all be looking forward to playing their part in the result.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): de Gea; Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Wan-Bissaka, Fred, McTominay, Telles; Fernandes; Martial, Rashford
Nordi Mukiele, Lukas Klostermann and Konrad Laimer are all sidelined and Amadou Haidara joins his teammates as confirmed absentees after having contracted the coronavirus.
Peter Gulacsi will be in goal for Leipzig, with a four-man backline providing him the cover. The star at the back will be Dayot Upamecano, a player of interest for Manchester United and several other European giants. Upamecano will be partnered by Willi Orban in central defence, with Marcel Halstenberg on the left. The right side could be occupied by Tyler Adams, who isn’t a natural defender.
In midfield, we should see Dani Olmo, Kevin Kampl and Emil Forsberg occupy the central areas, with Christopher Nkunku and former Manchester City star Angelino out on the wings. Yussuf Poulsen should return to the starting eleven and will lead the Leipzig attack against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Gulacsi; Adams, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Nkunku, Olmo, Forsberg, Kampl, Angelino; Poulsen
1. RB Leipzig have conceded just 3 goals so far in 2020/21 in all competitions.
2. Counter Calls – Manchester United had the least possession in Group H on Matchday 1 (42.5%) while Leipzig also had less than 50% possession despite going up against an inferior Istanbul Basaksehir. (47.9%)
3. Manchester United have only failed to score once this campaign so far in all competitions. However, it did come this weekend in a 0-0 draw against Chelsea.
4. Angelino has four goals to his name for RB Leipzig this season in just 6 appearances.
5. Anthony Martial is yet to score a goal for Manchester United in the 2020/21 season.
Player to Watch
An own goal in the Paris Saint-Germain victory; an early shower that played a big role in the heavy defeat to Tottenham and a lack of goals have all contributed to Martial being on the harsh end of criticism. The Frenchman has pledged to improve upon the lack of goals so far this season quickly and a good performance against Leipzig might just be it.
Edinson Cavani is fully fit and will provide competition for places for Martial, which could spur him on against RB Leipzig, especially considering the bright cameo Cavani had against Chelsea. The French international is good in tight spaces and that will be a big part of how to unlock the Leipzig stronghold at the back.
Manchester United 1-0 RB Leipzig
We can see another close and low scoring encounter here at Old Trafford. RB Leipzig will have a proper gameplan of dismantling the rhythm of the game with constant pressure. Manchester United though, should find it easier to navigate Leipzig’s pressing, thanks to the three-man backline.
This is likely to have just one goal in it, with Anthony Martial tipped to redeem himself for the own goal against PSG or maybe a Bruno Fernandes penalty. Either way, a close win seems to be on the cards for the home side on Wednesday.