Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen are currently on pace to advance out of Group A in Champions League play. Two matches remain in the stage, however, and Shakhtar Donetsk are lurking with hope one of those clubs will falter.
United's biggest problem in the early portion of the campaign has been an inability to maintain form. While there have been stretches where the Red Devils look like Premier League and Champions League contenders, setbacks like the weekend draw with Cardiff there's still work to do.
Leverkusen, which suffered a 4-2 loss at Old Trafford in the first meeting, are otherwise off to a strong start. They are keeping pace with Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich and have just one loss across all competitions since the United defeat in September.
Let's check out all the key information for Wednesday's Champions League clash, followed by a breakdown of the top storyline and a match prediction.
Where: BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany
When: Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. GMT)
Watch: Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Bayer Leverkusen: 38 percent
Manchester United: 36.2 percent
Draw: 25.8 percent
Top Storyline: Can Manchester United punch their ticket to the knockout rounds?
United can clinch a berth in the next round with a road triumph, but the biggest question is how aggressive they want to play with a match against Shakhtar Donetsk lurking. It's a tactical question manager David Moyes must answer before kickoff.
Ensuring a trip to the Round of 16 before that final match would be nice, of course. But the last thing United want is to suffer a two- or three-goal defeat while Shakhtar takes care business at home against Real Sociedad, potentially creating a situation where a draw in the group finale eliminates United.
In turn, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Red Devils push forward with Robin van Persie, or Javier Hernandez if the club's top striker isn't back to full strength, and Wayne Rooney seeking an early goal. If they get one, the outlook for the match changes.
If United aren't able to secure that early strike, they will likely fall into a more defensive approach with hopes of securing at least a draw and making sure they control their own destiny heading into the final match. There's no reason to take too much risk.
For Leverkusen, the pressure will be on the midfield to make sure United aren't able to set up shop in the attacking third, which was the case at times in the first meeting. Simon Rolfes and Co. should be able to keep the possession battle pretty even, giving Bayer a much better chance at a result.
United are the more potent side overall, but have to travel to Germany after a lackluster showing against Cardiff and must keep the larger picture in mind with one UCL group match to play. The question is whether Leverkusen can take advantage of that.
The German club's recent form suggests it should pose a much bigger challenge for the Premier League side than the first time around, at the very least. All things considered, it seems like a draw is the most likely result for the key fixture.
Manchester United 1, Bayer Leverkusen 1