After playing to a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford, the Manchester United Red Devils will look to knock off Champions League favorites Bayern Munich on Wednesday afternoon at Allianz Arena.
Currently sitting in seventh place in the Premier League table, Manchester United have had a fairly disappointing season so far. However, they've been playing well as of late, winning four of their last five Premier League matches by a combined score of 13-4.
Can they ride their re-emerging confidence right through Bayern and into the Champions League semifinals?
Confidence will help, yes. However, the Red Devils must do a lot more in order to steal a victory.
Embrace the Role of the Underdog
Patrice Evra—who missed the first leg but will be playing in this one—spoke to Martin Hardy of The Independent about facing arguably the top club in the world.
It is not often since I have played for Manchester United that we are not the favourites, but let’s surprise everyone. ... We always believe when you play for Manchester United.
Like Evra said, this is uncommon ground for a club with a record 11 FA Cups and three European Cups.
They've almost always been the favorites, and even when they weren't, not many were predicting they'd lose 6-0 on aggregate.
Well, Nemanja Vidic's goal in the first leg (video below) proved that prediction wrong.
And if the Red Devils can embody the role of the underdog by playing loose and with absolutely nothing to lose, there's no reason why they can't blow the doors off of it and walk away victorious.
No Early Goals Allowed
In the first leg, Manchester United had just 26 percent of the possession, per WhoScored.com.
Though the possession battle may not be quite as lopsided this time, it's safe to assume Bayern will dominate the ball once again.
Therefore, Moyes' bunch cannot afford to concede an early goal.
If they do, it will be extremely difficult to find scoring chances because Bayern will be content to sit back and play defense.
Plus, we must consider the current state of United's top two goal scorers.
Robin van Persie is out due to an injury.
By keeping Bayern off the scoreboard early, the Red Devils will give their depleted front line the best chance to make an impact.
Capitalize on the Absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger
After receiving two yellow cards in the first leg, Bastian Schweinsteiger will be suspended for the game against United.
Jan Aage Fjortoft, a former Norwegian footballer and current pundit based in Germany, points out the severity of this absence:
Since 12/13season Bayern have lost 3 games in the ChampionsLeague.The only times Schweinsteiger has NOT been in starting11. He's not 2morrow— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) April 8, 2014
If the Red Devils can capitalize on this and take advantage of a weakened Bayern midfield, the momentum could easily shift in their favor.
Who is a Bigger Absence?
Sure, Bayern have suitable replacements for Schweinsteiger, but none of them have the experience that Schweinsteiger does. Nor have they played as many minutes with the starting XI.
United would be foolish not to attack this obvious weak spot.
Utilize Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck was an absolute nightmare for Bayern in the first leg.
In addition to nearly scoring on a one-on-one opportunity against Manuel Neuer, he also had a goal disallowed in the opening minutes (below).
If Manchester United deploy the same counter-attacking style of play as they did in the first leg, Welbeck's incredible pace will be a huge weapon once again.
And if he can stretch Bayern's defense, the opportunity to score the game-winner could very well be his.
The Red Devils face a daunting task in trying to eliminate Bayern.
However, as we saw Tuesday night when Chelsea overcame a 3-1 deficit against Paris Saint-Germain, nothing is impossible.
If United are able to embrace the role they find themselves in, keep Bayern off the scoreboard early on, take advantage of Bastian Schweinsteiger's absence and get the ball on Danny Welbeck's foot at the right time, victory will follow.