Manchester United vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Bold Predictions for Anticipated Clash
After the disappointment of their last two Champions League campaigns, Manchester United will be looking to turn over a new European leaf under David Moyes on Tuesday.
The four-time Champions League finalists have failed to make the quarter-finals of the last two competitions, and will look to improve that record as they get their campaign up and running against Bayer Leverkusen.
The Red Devils’ group is one of the toughest the club has had in recent years, and their German opponents promise to pose a difficult obstacle for Moyes and his men.
Here are several predictions for how things might play out as United and Leverkusen open their Champions League seasons.
Heung-Min Son Proves His Worth At Old Trafford
One of numerous attacking talents linked with Manchester United over the summer, the Mirror’s Barrie White recently revealed that Heung-Min Son turned down the chance of a move to the English giants.
That’s according to the South Korea star’s agent, who goes on to state that a raft of other Premier League sides were in for his client.
The Red Devils may finally get to see Son light up the Theatre of Dreams this week, although not in the manner they may have liked.
The 21-year-old has lined up on the left flank for Leverkusen this season, and has a tendency to cut inside to satiate his more centrally-focused needs from time to time.
With Rafael’s fitness still up for debate and the likes of Fabio and Phil Jones filling in, there’s a very good chance that Leverkusen’s Asian starlet will have a big influence on matters.
Midfield Will Decide the Tie
With Marouane Fellaini recently joining into Moyes’ squad, the Manchester United boss has a horde of midfield options for the visit of their German opponents.
Anderson looks most likely to be used by the Scotsman, while Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa could all figure.
For Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia, his best lineup is less of a conundrum, although that’s not to say his options aren’t just as healthy.
Bundesliga reporter Stefan Bienkowski highlighted the battle for midfield over Twitter:
Fascinated to see how Fellaini does in the #UCL for United. Especially against midfield dominating Leverkusen.— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) September 14, 2013
Leverkusen's starting lineup is bound to feature Lars Bender, Gonzalo Castro and Stefan Reinartz, although Simon Rolfes and Robbie Kruse could also stake their claim for a spot.
Depending on what approach the managers take, the middle of the pitch promises to decide what shape the fixture takes.
Bayer Bring Something Back to Leverkusen
Despite Manchester United’s pedigree and the fact Leverkusen haven’t been the most prominent of clubs in Europe, this is still a tough beginning for the Premier League champions.
It might be stating things too simply, but the Bundesliga has been a league in its ascendancy in recent years in terms of overall quality, while the Premier League has regressed slightly.
The Champions League will be a test for both Moyes and Hyypia, but there’s much less pressure on the Germans to perform at one of football’s great venues.
Leverkusen have impressed in the Bundesliga, winning four of their five fixtures, creating 60 scoring opportunities in total and averaging more than two goals per game.
In contrast, United are still adapting to life under Moyes and have made just 40 scoring chances while performing an average of 60 defensive actions per game, albeit playing one game less.
Whether it’s by draw or a more surprising win, the visiting side will take something from this game and get their Champions League campaign off to a good start.
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