Bayern Munich more than most know the spirit, belief and fight in Manchester United. The Champions League final of 1999 obviously springs to mind but the Quarter Final of 2001 is another match which sticks in my memory.
After a 1-0 defeat in the first leg (home) and losing 2-0 at half time in the return leg, United had it all to do. Giggs scored early in the second half to attempt a fight back, unfortunately we were unable to score again and lost the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Although Bayern gained revenge the abiding memory which has remained with me is the reaction of Franz Beckenbauer after another United attack. We were 3-1 down but Beckenbauer knew the tie was still in the balance, his reaction was “oh no, here we go again…” as he looked to the heavens. Beckenbauer knows the spirit, belief and fight installed by Sir Alex Ferguson; he knows Manchester United will fight to the very last.
That’s exactly what Manchester United will have to do on Wednesday night – fight to the very last. United are 2-1 down after the first leg (deservedly so, I may add) after Ribery cancelled out the early goal scored by Rooney and Olic scored a late winner. Van der Sar made a number of saves and I dread to think of the score may have been without his heroics.
At times during the first leg I couldn’t believe how deep are midfield played, they were virtually on top of our defence which of course allowed Bayern to attack and left Rooney isolated. Fair play to Rooney, he chased absolutely everything as he normally does. Rooney’s pace worried the Bayern defence but with his absence tonight, Bayern can have a higher defensive line which will squeeze the midfield area. We all know the Rooney will he or won’t he be available stories circulating at the moment, hopefully he will be on the bench and not required.
After another poor performance against Chelsea the pressure is certainly on the team and individuals. Rightly or wrong Berbatov comes in for his fair share of criticism. A big performance is required from him to silence his critics and in the process helping his team progress. Personally, I believe Berbatov performs better in a 4-4-2 formation; he is less suited to leading the line but has greater influence on a match when he plays with a fellow forward. For me, Macheda starts alongside Berbatov.
My main concern about playing a 4-4-2 formation is the additional work expected on an already jaded Darren Fletcher. Michael Carrick, similar to Berbatov is another player requiring an improved performance. Since the first leg he has suffered plenty of criticism, probably justified in fairness. However, I’m a big Carrick fan and think he is vastly underrated. Carrick and Fletcher start in centre midfield for me.
Nani and Valencia have to start on the wings; we need to put Bayern on the back foot immediately. Rafael or even O’Shea could perhaps replace Neville in the only change of the back five.
I felt against Chelsea the atmosphere was somewhat subdued. Perhaps the early kick off and early domination of Chelsea had an unusual effect on the Old Trafford faithful. Without question we’ll be in better voice tonight; we need to drive the lads forward.
Bayern are probably stronger in the second leg with the return of Schweinsteiger (after suspension) and Arjen Robben. During the first leg Bayern’s defence looked creaky but they have a one goal lead to fight for…. I’m going for a 2-0 victory for United, what do you think?
Another tense night of European football awaits. Come on United – believe!!!!!!