Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side find themselves within one defeat of potential elimination from the Champions League and have only themselves to blame. Tuesday night’s trip to Leipzig would be essentially a dead rubber had United just gone with the script and beaten Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey on matchday three.
Instead, United pushed every outfield player into Basaksehir territory in the 13th minute and left Demba Ba with the freedom of Istanbul as he put the home side ahead, leaving Solskjaer’s men with a decidedly tricky fixture on the final day of the group stages to secure their progress to the last-16.
In a way, United’s trip to Leipzig mirrors their trip to Leicester on the final day of last season when they held the slight advantage of knowing that either a draw or a win would secure Champions League football at Leicester’s expense.
A draw or a win on Tuesday will secure knockout Champions League football at Leipzig’s expense and could set up in a similar manner to how they set up at the King Power Stadium in July. Solskjaer made sure that United were watertight at the back for that decisive win last season and eventually caught Leicester cold at the other end when they pushed for that all-important goal. He will surely look to do the same on Tuesday night against a side that he has already outfoxed.
Fernandes was uncharacteristically poor in United’s defeat to PSG last week, but he proved his class yet again when he was sprung from the bench against West Ham on Saturday night. The Portuguese midfielder utterly changed the game on Saturday and proved once more that he is by far the most important player at the club.
Fernandes is the reason United are in the Champions League in the first place and his goals against PSG and Basaksehir have propelled the club to the cusp of qualification for the knockout stages. He is surely the best bet to find the back of the net if United are to score on Tuesday, especially given United’s propensity for winning penalties this season.
United are likely to set up to not concede on Tuesday, meaning that Leipzig could find it tough to break them down in what will surely be a tense and cagey opening 45 minutes. Leipzig, meanwhile, are unlikely to go gung-ho in the first half and risk conceding on the counter.
They will want to stay in the tie for as long as possible and struggled to break United down at Old Trafford in any case. United have also kept a clean sheet in the first half of all three of their Champions League wins this season. The opening 45 minutes of this one is likely to be tense and void of many goalscoring opportunities.
United’s overall defensive record in Europe this season has been less than impressive, and they have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their five group games so far. Logic would dictate that there is a good chance that they will concede again on Tuesday night.
They have conceded second half goals in two of their three victories this season and they could easily do so again in Germany. Leipzig have scored in four goals in their two home games so far this season and will cause United far more problems than they did at Old Trafford.
At the other end, The Red Devils have been excellent and only three teams have scored more goals than them in the Champions League this season. Considering they are playing in arguably the toughest group in the competition, that is nothing to be sneered at. They have scored in all five games this season and will fancy their chances of making that six out of six.
*All odds in copy and recording correct at time of publication. Odds are subject to change but they’re always bang on with our clever betting banners.
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