Manchester United vs. Leverkusen: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
Champions League football is back. Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen are two of the clubs set for action on the opening matchday. Both are hoping for a positive start to an extremely well-balanced and competitive Group A.
United are the top club in the group, which also features Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad, but there are no pushovers. David Moyes' squad will need to battle through every fixture if they are going to advance to the knockout stages.
Assuming United takes care of business as expected, Leverkusen are likely to find themselves in a very tight battle for the other berth in the Round of 16. That's why a draw on the road in the opening match would be a huge result.
What's your prediction for the UCL match?
Knowing that, let's check out all the key information for the Champions League clash, followed by a closer look at Manchester United's chances and a match prediction.
Where: Old Trafford in Manchester, England
When: Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Watch: Fox Sports 1 and ITV 1
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Manchester United: 67.7%
Bayer Leverkusen: 12.0%
Top Storyline: Are Manchester United serious Champions League contenders?
Sir Alex Ferguson decided to step away from the sidelines after last season, forcing Manchester United into a new era led by Moyes. The former Everton boss is under immense pressure to produce results and the early signs have been mixed.
After a lackluster preseason, United captured the Community Shield with a victory over Wigan. They have since picked up wins against Swansea and Crystal Palace, but the results in matches against tougher competition, which they will certainly face in the Champions League, aren't as promising.
The Red Devils were held to a scoreless draw at Old Trafford by Chelsea and looked out of sorts in a road loss against Liverpool. If they bring that type of form to Group A play, starting with the Leverkusen clash, it will be a challenge just to advance.
Talent isn't the issue. Led by Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and the always reliable Rio Ferdinand, United have enough star power to make a Champions League run. It comes down to Moyes getting all of the other pieces to fit together.
Whether it's getting Marouane Fellaini comfortable with his new surroundings, finding a way to get the perfect connection between Van Persie and Rooney or establishing roles for the numerous players worthy of playing time, it's a tough balancing act.
Nor is there much time to get it all figured out. Since they don't have one of those extreme long-shot squads in their group, they can't afford a series of let downs or United's UCL run will end before it ever really gets going.
From Leverkusen's perspective, they should be happy to play the United road match at this stage, before Moyes has a chance to get everything sorted out. It doesn't guarantee a positive result by any means, but it definitely helps their chances.
Expect the German side, which has 11 goals in five league matches so far, to test United by moving forward aggressively early on in the game.
Manchester United are rightfully favored in the match. It takes place at Old Trafford and United are the more talented squad when at full strength. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, though. Leverkusen are playing well right now.
The most important thing for United is to establish the pace of play in the first 15 minutes. As long as they don't let the German side build confidence early, Van Persie and Co. should be able to avoid an early UCL letdown while earning three key points.
Manchester United 2, Bayer Leverkusen 1
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