Manchester Utd vs. Wolfsburg: Team News, Predicted Lineups, Live Stream, TV Info

Paul Ansorge@@utdrantcastFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2015

Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal, left, and Bastian Schweinsteiger answer questions during a press conference at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Manchester United will play VFL Wolfsberg in a Champions League group B soccer match on Wednesday.  (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Louis van Gaal faces a significant test as Dieter Hecking brings his side to town for Manchester United vs. Wolfsburg.

United come into this game on the back of three straight wins, having scored three goals in each of those games.

Wolfsburg, on the other hand, only managed a home draw against Hannover 96 as they looked to bounce back from last week's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich and a rampant Robert Lewandowski. 

However, the Germans sit above United in Group B, having won their opener against CSKA Moscow in Wolfsburg. United, of course, lost against PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, making a win here even more crucial. 

Dieter Hecking and Andre Schurrle during training on the Old Trafford pitch
Dieter Hecking and Andre Schurrle during training on the Old Trafford pitchJon Super/Associated Press/Associated Press

During his press conference on Tuesday, Van Gaal said, via the club's website, "You need to win all your home matches in the Champions League otherwise it shall be very difficult. It is still possible but difficult so it's important that we win."

A draw would be a tremendous result for Wolfsburg after their good start. Last season's Bundesliga runners-up certainly have the tools to hurt United if they are at anything less than their best.

Date: Wednesday, 30 September

Time: 7:45 p.m. BST / 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester

TV Info: BT Sport Europe (U.K. Only) / Fox Sports 1 (U.S. Only)

Live Stream: BT Sport (U.K. Only) / Fox Soccer 2 Go (U.S. Only)

Form Lines

Manchester United: LWLWWW

Wolfsburg:  WDWWLD

Team News

United, having lost Luke Shaw to a broken leg in Eindhoven, are dealing with a couple of additional "minor injuries," according to Van Gaal.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, per ManUtd.com, Van Gaal said, "I think Michael Carrick shall not play tomorrow . The other two (Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia) we have to wait and see. They have minor injuries so I don't want to take any risks." 

Michael Carrick is set to miss the game
Michael Carrick is set to miss the gameTony Marshall/Getty Images

With Marcos Rojo also out, per Richard Parry of the Evening StandardUnited's defensive resources are stretched pretty thinly. United's website also suggest Paddy McNair is "doubtful after being unavailable for the Ipswich Town and Sunderland games."

As for Wolfsburg, ManUtd.com reported, "Vieirinha and Koen Casteels have sat out the Wolves' last five matches, while Robin Knoche is sidelined for another two weeks. Luiz Gustavo missed Saturday's match with Hannover due to a knee problem."

Predicted Lineups

Manchester United - Football tactics and formations

The above lineup works on the assumption Valencia is unable to play. If that is the case, the fit-again Phil Jones can partner Chris Smalling at centre-back, with Daley Blind shifting over to left-back.

In midfield, with Carrick out and Herrera doubtful, the partnership of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin seems the logical choice.

The forwards all provided either goals or assistsor bothagainst Sunderland, so there is no real need for changes there.  

Wolfsburg - Football tactics and formations

As for Wolfsburg, the lineup above is the same as one which started against Hannover and assuming Gustavo is not fit, seems a good bet to start at Old Trafford.

Against Bayern Munich last week, Hecking played a 4-4-2, per WhoScored.com. The more defensively sound structure of the 4-1-4-1 above could help constrict the space available for United to capitalise on their passing game.

Players to Watch 

Manchester United: Anthony Martial

Ashley Young appears amused by Martial in training
Ashley Young appears amused by Martial in trainingDave Thompson/Getty Images

Martial's brilliant start meant it was almost a surprise that he did not get on the score sheet against Sunderland. He did, however, get his first United assist, and he has been a vital component in the attacking unit that has seen the Red Devils hit that impressive record of nine goals in their last three games. Going back further, they have in fact scored 13 goals in the five games since Martial was signed. 

It is a far cry from the team that struggled to make much of an impression on the score board earlier in the season. 

Wolfsburg: Julian Draxler

Draxler celebrating his goal against Moscow
Draxler celebrating his goal against MoscowTOBIAS SCHWARZ/Getty Images

Bas Dost has five Bundesliga goals to his name already this season. However it was Draxler—brought in to replace Kevin De Bruyne after his move to Manchester City—who was the outstanding performer in Wolfsburg's win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

He scored the only goal of the game and made a remarkable five key passes.

The former Schalke man had a superb game, hitting all three of his shots on target—including his goal, a scrappy affair as he latched on to the rebounded save from his header, which he also got on target.

Draxler had more touches than any other player in the game and completed an impressive 90.5 per cent of his 84 passes.

Key Battle

Morgan Schneiderlin vs. Julian Draxler

Morgan and Martial, either warming up or performing interpretive dance
Morgan and Martial, either warming up or performing interpretive danceOLI SCARFF/Getty Images

If Schneiderlin can keep Draxler quiet, particularly on the counter-attack, United will be in a much better position to get the points they need out of the game. 

Schneiderlin will be occupied with helping to recycle possession when United do have the ball, but when they lose it, he will have to be at his best, particularly if Blind and Matteo Darmian are caught upfield—which is a risk they will certainly take as they help to provide United with some much-needed width.

There are other battles which will be important—Martial vs. Naldo and Dante, for example, and Wayne Rooney vs. Joshua Guilavogui, but from United's point of view, the job Schneiderlin does on Draxler will be key.

  

Odds

The following are the odds for the game, at the time of writing, per Odds Shark.

Manchester United Win: 4/5

Draw: 71/25

Wolfsburg Win: 4/1

All advanced statistics per WhoScored.com.

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