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Man Utd ready for Bayern test

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Phil McNulty | 07:00 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sir Alex Ferguson's smile as he hinted Wayne Rooney could yet talk his way on to the Manchester United bench for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich may have been designed to lure opposite number Louis van Gaal into a corridor of uncertainly.

Van Gaal and his team do not scare easily, however. Indeed, Bayern president Uli Hoeness insists they arrive at Old Trafford for the second leg of their quarter-final tie on "a tailwind" after Saturday's victory at title rivals Schalke 04 sent them back to the top of the Bundesliga.

In contrast, United have had the tables turned on them since a lead held for 75 minutes in the Allianz Arena was stripped away by two late goals, giving Bayern a slender advantage to protect at what is sure to be a thunderous Old Trafford on Wednesday.

While United, without the injured Rooney, were losing their Premier League lead to Chelsea, Bayern left Gelsenkirchen accompanied by an unrepentant orgy of self-congratulation that was not exactly well-received.

United, by Van Gaal's own admission, remain favourites to go through to the semi-finals thanks to Rooney's early goal in Germany. But Ferguson, who talked up the team ethic as a counter to the absence of his outstanding player, knows United must be better than they were against Bayern and Chelsea if they are to stay on course for a third successive Champions League final.

Ferguson could have been handed more difficult draws in the last eight, but Bayern's deserved victory at the Allianz and their ominous habit of getting the results they require make it clear United could have had it much easier.

And they will need to raise themselves from the dip in form and confidence they have suffered in the last week if they are to dent the supreme self-belief Bayern have carried with them from Germany.

Rooney's injury looked serious but could a return be on the cards on WednesdayRooney's injury looked serious but could a return be on the cards on Wednesday? Photo: Getty

Bayern's in-built resilience is allied to a danger on the break, typified by the width and pace provided by Franck Ribery and, if fit, Arjen Robben. United must therefore couple caution with their natural attacking intent.

Central to their quest will be Dimitar Berbatov, assuming Ferguson presents the enigmatic Bulgarian striker with another opportunity to silence the cynics after his performance in defeat against Chelsea brought more criticism.

Berbatov's perceived lack of mobility and unwillingness to run the channels, never his game anyway, drew some harsh words, but he is not and never will be Rooney. It is also worth nothing that some intelligent runs went ignored on Saturday as he was left in isolation for too long.

There is, however, no escaping the responsibility and expectation on Berbatov if he plays on Wednesday. He can ill-afford to spearhead another misfiring United display.

If United, as they insist, are able to cope without Rooney, they must present a more convincing case against Bayern than they did at any time against Chelsea.

Ferguson will hope tired legs were at the root of United's lethargy at the weekend, when even Didier Drogba's blatantly offside winner should not be allowed to disguise their inferiority to Carlo Ancelotti's side.

And United must play the game at the high pace that suits them, although much of that tempo is usually set by Rooney. Ferguson's default position as a tactician is a cavalier, attacking one, and his side went too easily into retreat in the first leg, almost inviting the calamity that befell them in the closing minutes.

Their cause will be helped if they can rediscover the passing accuracy that has also mysteriously deserted them in their last two games. Ferguson rightly regards possession as at least nine-tenths of football's law and it has been surrendered too easily to Bayern and Chelsea, opponents only too willing to accept this uncharacteristic generosity.

United, though, are too good a side for this to continue unchecked, and Darren Fletcher will once again be a vital figure, a player Ferguson counts on to set the tone on nights like Wednesday.

Ferguson will also want to inject this extra pace into his side to unsettle Bayern, and his love of natural width may mean this is a big night for the maturing Antonio Valencia and Nani.

United will find it easier to adopt their more traditional attacking stance with Old Trafford behind them - forget the jibes about the long silences and prawn sandwiches because the place can rock with the best of them on Champions League nights.

Pace, passing and power, plus a clean sheet, will be at the heart of United's approach. And the good news is that Ferguson's players have proved more than capable of dealing in all of these precious commodities on countless occasions in the past.

Van BommelWill Van Bommel be made to eat his words? Photo: Getty

Ferguson may also wish to focus on the potentially premature triumphalism of Bayern's Mark van Bommel, who painted a bleak picture of United's prospects - always a dangerous tactic from any opponent preparing to visit Old Trafford.

After his side's win in the first leg, the battle-hardened Netherlands midfielder claimed: "I saw the look on the faces of the United players and they were in a state of shock and anger. It was like they couldn't believe what we had done to them, and I'm sure that will have had an impact on them psychologically."

Van Bommel might be guilty of over-doing the optimism. Ferguson has an extra glint of steel in his eye when presented with an uphill challenge at Old Trafford - he almost revels in the notion of United making life difficult for themselves before escaping unscathed.

It will be another of those nights as United attempt to avoid a miserable conclusion to the most testing week of their season.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Phil-

    Interesting blog, although I think much as Sir Alex likes these psychological jibes, he is not relying on sidetracking Bayern into believing Rooney will play. Remember they played against Rooney in Munich and he remained anonymous and largely ineffective for large expanses of the game. I really think you are over-hyping Rooney as the British media, and as a Man United fan it seems this gets to the players who look lost without him.

    That said, the mistake united will make is to think simply because thay are playing at home, a win is guaranteed. Remember if Bayern score, the permutations may be complex and could work to Man United's detriment. I hope we can produce one of those AS Roma nights.

  • Comment number 2.

    For all the pre-match analysis, there is every reason for bayern to be optimist going in to the second leg at Old Trafford with there slender advantage, they have option to hold on to it, since united are missing there talisman, There is every chance Ribery and Robben will make the difference, Its a pity Rooney will not be present to rescue Manchester United from Champions league Elimination today at OT, Am off the opinion that you United might suffer from the Saturday defeat to Chelsea,

    Psychologically, Bayern Munich have the edge and it will remain like that through out the course of the game......Common U Bavarians

  • Comment number 3.

    Couple of points Phil,

    1. I did not see/hear any thunderous Old Trafford when Chelsea were winning. Only time, I heard some noise was in the second half around the time Macheda scored with his hand
    2. Which brings me to the point that Drogba's goal was only a winner because on the opposite end, MU scored an illegal goal. which both Drogba and Macheda's goals are disallowed, there is a legitimate clear winner scored by Joe cole
    3. United were not lethargic, their strong performance in the second half showed that in contrast to their lethargic performance against Everton.
    4. Did you actually read the Guardian article and what exactly Van Bommel said. To return to the top, victory at Schalke was bare minimum. What is wrong with that?
    5. I did not see you ever writing an article about United player congratulating return to top of the table and making it sound like they have committed a crime. Remember what Barbatov said in Feb along with Fergusson that it is going to be two horse race? or United players and fans congratulating themselves for reaching the final or even winning the CL before QF even started. Look at your last blog after CL draw to see what I mean. Have they set themselves to downfall by that as well.
    6. Please avoid making stories of nothing. I thought you could do better than that, however, I could be seriously mistaken and flawed in my judgment though!

  • Comment number 4.

    United go from being a great team to 'merely' good without Rooney.

    No silverware for old rednose this season - tee hee :o))

  • Comment number 5.

    good blog...only a fool would doubt united when the chips are down!

  • Comment number 6.

    Tonight will be an interesting game with united on the attack and Munich trying to counter with pacey wingers. I think united will be pressing from the start and get an early goal as they did in Munich, but this time will go on and score another without reply.
    United 2-0 win for me, with United's wingers running riot!

  • Comment number 7.

    I have to say i am more worried about this game tonight than i was about losing to Chelsea in the league. I just think that Chelsea will drop points at Liverpool, and as long as we stay in touch with Chelsea up until that point, we still have a great chance.

    In contrast, the performance against Bayern last week reminded me of similar performances when we went out against AC Milan. I can see Bayern getting a goal at OT, which means we will need 3, and this is something that i can't see Berbatov providing on his own. Maybe we could borrow Messi for the night.... ;)

    It is squeaky bum time.

  • Comment number 8.

    This is how the real things will go - Bayern will score a goal in 12th minute of the game and for the rest of the game as Phil Vickery say - Fletcher can even throw sand on Bommel back. In last game even Rooney couldn't chase him down with that one two in the middle of the pitch.

    VIVA VIVA FC Bayern

    We are going to France after this and Manchester United to Greece.

  • Comment number 9.

    Phil, am in agreement that we dint play to full potential against Chelsea but there is absolutely no excuse for poor officiation, its really disappointing to loose out that way, a couple of times we have gone off games being the lucky side, that does not mean its ok, Drogba was about a meter offside, Lamps brought down Berba right infront of Dean, why? and it happens at all grounds all week, its a pity, little wonder only one ref from the Premiership will officiate at the 2010 world cup despite its marketability accross the globe, at Bayern we were sluggish and believe we gave them more respect than they deserved, tonight we will have to play at a higher tempo and a finale with Mour is beckoning at the Bernabue. . .

  • Comment number 10.

    @4

    erm, if you remember, we won the Mickey Mouse Cup, so i do believe that constitutes "some" silverware already ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    It's a mid week game at Old Trafford, United always win mid week at Old Trafford.

    So I don't know what all the worry is about.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am a little worried about Tonight, Berba looked ok playing the solo role against Bolton but against Bayern I Don't think he can carry the weight on his own. He will have to surely start Nani & Valencia??

    I think only one out of Scholes & Giggs should start.

    Many of Bayerns players kept running dangerously at our defence last week, with Robben back it can only get worse.

    An early goal is needed. if they score first we will need a lot of good fortune!

  • Comment number 13.

    With or without Rooney United will get the result they will work for.
    This type of games, as experience shows, are not won by inform strikers and United has always found its way out of difficult times and this might be one.
    Ronaldo and Rooney were all in United squad but non of them scored against Barca to send United to the Final at Moscow. CR even missed a penalty at Nou Camp. Fletcher, Nani or Macheda may take the day today.

    But Bayern is as well a battle hardened opponent which makes it harder, i cant wait.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is how the real things will go - Bayern will score a goal in 12th minute of the game and for the rest of the game as Phil Vickery say - Fletcher can even throw sand on Bommel back. In last game even Rooney couldn't chase him down with that one two in the middle of the pitch.

    VIVA VIVA FC Bayern

    We are going to France after this and Manchester United to Greece.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Comment number 15.

    tonight we will have to play at a higher tempo and a finale with Mour is beckoning at the Bernabue. . .

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    You missed Barcelona and Messi last night then?

  • Comment number 16.

    Nani has to play, that was a massive omission on Saturday, Valencia (had an excellent 1st season) didn't turn up, with Gigg's, Scholes' and Neville's ageing legs woefully exposed. I think United can field 2 of them at most in the big games. As soon as Nani and Macheda entered the fray with their raw pace, United looked dangerous.

    Nani puts fear into the opposition, and has recently shown much greater responsibility in covering his full back. Ferguson went back to defensive mode against Chelsea electing for the safety of Parks energy, and the experience of his old campaigners, but it left the side short on pace and short on attacking imagination.

    Nani has gone form subject of ridicule, to a firm favourite, and yet it appears he still does not have his managers complete trust. I hope he plays tonight; Attack Attack Attack Attack Attack!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Good blog Phil.

    I fully agree with "Jimmy Ellis", United have had their backs to the wall and come through too many times for anybody to bet against them.

    The loss of Wayne is obviously massive and I dont think Berbatov is anywhere near the man we signed from Tottenham so we are going to need our midfield to be at their goalscoring best which we all know they are fully capable of.

    I think our experience will count for everything tonight, with players like Scholes and Giggs putting in performances proving to critics why they are still playing for the best club in the world.

    Man of the match shout ...... Antonio Valencia, he is going to cause carnage tonight and may even get on the scoresheet.

    United to win 3-0.

  • Comment number 18.

    Decent blog and fair assessment. Van Bommel may have been slightly premature in thinking United are SO pyschologically effected by the Bayern winning. We got an away goal in Germany - im quite happy with that! United will have a full strenth team except for Rooney, which means at the very least, we probably wont concede a goal.

    United need to start positively with a positive team. Leave Park on the bench and start with both Nani and Valencia on the wings - with maybe Rafael and Evra overlapping when possible.

    Its defo a big game, but i think Bayern will suffer with over-confidence. They beat United and then went to the top of the Bundesliga within a week. United dont often lose a few games in a row - they have already lost of Bayern and Chelsea in the last week, so because of this i think United defo wont lose again.

    Rooney will be on the bench i bet as well.

    So in summary.
    United wont concede at home tonight. The crowd will be behind United. Bayern are obviously over-confident. United dont often lose 3 games in a row! 2-0 to United tonight.

  • Comment number 19.

    so whos startin tonight.
    v.d. sar
    rafael vidic rio evra
    valencia fletch carrick scholes nani
    berb

  • Comment number 20.

    squeaky bum time!

  • Comment number 21.

    If ferguson is going to be as staborn as i know him, then we are going nowhere, in as much as i appriciate the contribution of giggs, scholes and gary, it is also important for SAF to know that we cant manage to start with all three of this great players in a single game especially Gary at the back. No wonder when these experienced players are tired and removed we are getting lost and the good example is the two games we lost to bayern and chelsea. but if you look at the game against liverpool we used young stars after we scored the goals and introduced the veterans to kill off the game and it worked.
    As long as gary who i dont know why he has become defence minded starts this game(God forbid) i dont know what will stop what happened in germany from reapting.The weak link for manchester is gary and ferguson knows and should man enough to accept he has cost us the last two games because of his stueboness.

  • Comment number 22.

    By God's willing man u will beat bayern and make it to semi-final

  • Comment number 23.

    "3. At 07:58am on 07 Apr 2010, peter parker wrote:

    Couple of points Phil,";

    A couple? You then go on to list 6.

    "I could be seriously mistaken and flawed in my judgment though!"

    The understatement of the year.

    2-0 United.

  • Comment number 24.

    Come on United !
    We are coming up from Bristol tonight (Rovers fans!) for a dream come true - United vs Bayern in the European Championship. True the United situation doesn't look strong, and it seems strange that a rich, strong team like United should be worried by the loss of just one player (Rooney). No doubt though Fergie will be laying it on the line to the players beforehand. Should be a good contest and we are behind United all the way.

  • Comment number 25.

    We are coming up from Bristol tonight (Rovers fans!) for a dream come true - United vs Bayern in the European Championship.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Bless. Wrong competition but that's one excited fan.

  • Comment number 26.

    Berby really needs to come to the party tonight. My team:

    VDS
    Nev Vidic Rio Evra
    Park Fletch Scholes Carrick Valencia
    Berby

    Robben is having a better season than Ribery I reckon so he needs a job doing on him. That Olic is tricky but lightweight so need to avoid leaving the boot in on him.

    Bayern will have the bit between their teeth. But hopefully Park & Fletcher will drag the team through with their form this season.

    I don't see Rooney as an option so its down to Berby & Macheda to make a name for themselves up front.

  • Comment number 27.

    21. At 09:07am on 07 Apr 2010, chimus wrote:

    -----------------

    I'm not a fan of Gary but can you please explain how he has cost us both games???

  • Comment number 28.

    Eddie Shaw wrote:

    so whos startin tonight.
    v.d. sar
    rafael vidic rio evra
    valencia fletch carrick scholes nani
    berb
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    I doubt SAF would start Rafael (Although I'd like to see him go up against Ribery, he gives us a good going-forward option too).
    4-4-2 for me should be the combination today, with Carrick and Fletch and the 2 wingers, young Macheda upfront (although I doubt again SAF would start with 2 strikers) with Berbatov.

  • Comment number 29.

    There are two problems for United; no Rooney and Arjen Robben.

    United rely on Rooney far too much to be able to win tonight. I rate Berbatov, I think he's quality and while not a headless chicken he does enough. But United are built around Rooney in the same way they were built around Ronaldo last year. Without him and with Berbatov they need to play very differently to succeed.

    As you said Phil, United have struggled to keep posession recently and against Bayern they won't be able to cope with both Ribery and Robben on the break. One is possible, but not both.

    2-1 to Bayern.

  • Comment number 30.

    Good blog Phil.

    I think MUFC have a good chance of progressing to the next round with the home ground advantage and the away goal but they must not aim for a 1-0 win. If the Red Devils get an early goal, they must not stop the attack and must put unrelenting pressure against the Bavarins.

    Roma night might not be possible but still we can aim for it.

    One main thing that Rio and Vidic have to do is cut Robben and Ribery as early as possible when ball goes to them as they are very dangerous with the ball at their feet.

    Berbatov is not at his best, hope he comes back to his old Tottenham days tonight. If not, Fergie must substitute him with Macheda immediately.

    Squad must be Edwin van der Sar
    Neville Rio Vidic Evra
    Nani Scholes Carrick Flecther Giggs
    Berbatov
    with substitutes Park,Macheda,Gibson and Rooney.
    Good Luck Guys. GLORY GLORY MUFC .

  • Comment number 31.

    Guys,

    There should be Valencia in the atarting eleven.

    He must provide his trademark crosses and Berba should use them effectivelyyyyyy.

  • Comment number 32.

    We are coming up from Bristol tonight (Rovers fans!) for a dream come true - United vs Bayern in the European Championship.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Bless. Wrong competition but that's one excited fan.

    But that just highlights the difference these days between our Lge 1 stuff and the heady multi-national, multi - millionaire game at United's level. Worlds apart. You bet we're excited. Bayern play worse football than BCFC'82 (the lot south of the river Avon)!

  • Comment number 33.

    In palce of Neville , Rafael guys since the team needs Scholes and Giggs in the midfield.

  • Comment number 34.

    Simon samm,

    hope u watched what led to us conceding the first goal against beyern, it was a stupid deliberate handball which gary conceded when he had enough cover.
    In the game against chelsea he was always givin the ball away, his changed he cant attack unless its obvious and well read by opponents, And don,t think he can give us what rafel can offer apart from experience which Ferdnand and vidic can provide.
    I am not against Gary, but i just dont think he can play week in, week out.He is my hero.



  • Comment number 35.

    #23 Andrew, I could not agree with you more, I'm almost annoyed with myself for reading beyond point no.2. Complete and utter nonsense!

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Even if Utd get through tonight they haven't a snowballs chance in hell if they come up against Barcelona. It will be great to see them embarrassed again.

  • Comment number 38.

    But that just highlights the difference these days between our Lge 1 stuff and the heady multi-national, multi - millionaire game at United's level. Worlds apart. You bet we're excited. Bayern play worse football than BCFC'82 (the lot south of the river Avon)!

    ------------------------------------

    Hope you enjoy it :-)

  • Comment number 39.

    I agree we should definitely start with Valencia and Nani but we should play 4-4-2 with Berbatov supporting Diouf (yes Diouf). Pace and crosses coming from the wings but without the focal point of Rooney, Diouf would be a welcome sight. He is more likely to get on the end of a cross than Berba, as he's quicker, better in the air and will be an unknown for the Bayern defence.
    Then Berba will be right at home doing his silky skills and holding up play to put the right passes in...if that fails then bring on Macheda on the hour mark as he's a great supersub. (Or Olé in a Giggs mask)

    United to win 2-0

  • Comment number 40.

    Well, I wish Phil was right when he says: "Pace, passing and power, plus a clean sheet, will be at the heart of United's approach. And the good news is that Ferguson's players have proved more than capable of dealing in all of these precious commodities on countless occasions in the past." His memory lets him down badly! Not to mention his ability to use the internet when searching for info. United have only overturned a first-leg deficit once in the Champions League, when Roma waved the white flag 3 years ago. This is a really tough one for us as Bayern seem to be peaking at the right time...

  • Comment number 41.

    #14

    Mour is a better strategist than the novice in Pep. . .Eto is more of a threat than Ibrahimovic and with an experieced midfield at Inter, Barca wont find it as easy as we may think, Inters backline is more solid with a better keeper.

  • Comment number 42.

    #4:
    No silverware for old rednose this season - tee hee :o))
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not sure why you laugh when they've already won the League Cup! Check the stats

  • Comment number 43.

    Would be interesting to hear your views on fletchers recent form! I had him down as one of the top midfielders in the prem but uniteds dip seems to have coincided with a couple of poor performances from fletcher.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hmm..no word(s) from Phil on Barca (Messi) display lastnight against Arsenal (The team I support)....i wonder why?

    Nagi, poor officiating was against both teams. The better team on the day (Chelsea) won, so move on. Macheda used both hands to get his goal, also, Nevell's foul on Anelka was a blatant penalty

  • Comment number 45.

    Bayern will play on the break with the pace and skills of Robben and Ribery, the kind of wingers United used to have. Midfield forwards, this will be a very average United side. They should lose.

  • Comment number 46.

    Phil,
    I think you are trying to do something out of nothing here. I think in fact you might have turned the argument on its head.

    SAF's forced smile is more of a desperate morale booster tactic for his side, not intended to scare off the opposition. Bayern is no team of children cowering at the thought of bogeyman Rooney. While this is not to underestimate how good Rooney is, it is ridiculous to suggest a professional team of BM calibre can be scared by the potential inclusion of a good footballer on the BENCH. Even if that footballer was Messi!

    With that said should not the thought of facing Robben, a past tormenter of Man U's defenses, terrify the likes of Neville et al?

    Referring to Bayern's lead as a slim advantage is mistaken. No matter how thunderous OT might be on a given night or day, it certainly does not have a decisive effect on professional teams like Bayern. Or Chelsea, as we saw last week. A 2 to 1 lead is a result any coach would take into OT or Camp Nou for that matter.

    Make no mistake about this Phil, MANU has a huge mountain to climb. A victory is certainly doable for them even without Rooney.

  • Comment number 47.

    ' Remember if Bayern score, the permutations may be complex and could work to Man United's detriment.'
    No 1. Hamundyoli, amazing insight. So, a Bayern goal COULD work to United's detriment? In what circumstances might it not???

  • Comment number 48.

    Man Utd have shown time and time again that they're able to win when the chips are down. However, this untimely dip in form, coupled with Bayern's rise in confidence and the loss of Rooney will undoubtedly swing the pendulum in Bayern's favaour. Now, I am not saying this is a foregone conclusion, I am merely stating that the overconfidence shown by some Man Utd fans is, dare I say, a misinterpretation of the situation.

  • Comment number 49.

    In the last two games, United have been dyer. Tnoight, they still do not have Rooney and Bayern may bring back Robben. This will be a very tough European game, (though I would've expected a comfortable win with Rooney).

  • Comment number 50.

    Too many people are over-looking Bayern and the quality that they have in their team.
    Manchester united will be out matched in many positions and should be considered underdogs going into this one.
    With Ribery and Robben on the flanks, Olic, Gomez or Klose up front, Bayern should have enough attacking options to score at least once. United would then have to score 3 times and without Rooney I don't see this happening. Van Gaal is a world class coach and Bayern will be well prepared.

    IF United make it through tonight it will have to be considered one of Ferguson's greatest European achievements.

  • Comment number 51.

    9. At 08:24am on 07 Apr 2010, Nagi wrote:
    Phil, am in agreement that we dint play to full potential against Chelsea but there is absolutely no excuse for poor officiation, its really disappointing to loose out that way, a couple of times we have gone off games being the lucky side, that does not mean its ok, Drogba was about a meter offside, Lamps brought down Berba right infront of Dean, why? and it happens at all grounds all week, its a pity, little wonder only one ref from the Premiership will officiate at the 2010 world cup despite its marketability accross the globe, at Bayern we were sluggish and believe we gave them more respect than they deserved, tonight we will have to play at a higher tempo and a finale with Mour is beckoning at the Bernabue. . .

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pretty typical Utd fan comment, i guess you didnt see Neville run through Anelka, and Macarena....(yes thats right he is a dance) push the ball in to the goal.

    Anyway, nice blog. I hope Bayern trounce Utd!!

  • Comment number 52.

    If only, somewhere in the first 15 minutes, Valencia running down the right, passing it low and hard into the box and Berbatov backheels it into the roof of the net. Then a long time waiting, probably a corner from Bayern, a swift counterattack involving Park, Berbatov and Nani with the latter laying the ball ready for Berbatov to bury it in the low left corner leaving Butt in amazement. Hell, I would love to see a Scholes strike like the one against Barcelona two years ago. Dreaming of dreams at the Theatre of Dreams - who's leaving in nightmares? I hope Bayern, but it's going to be hard. 100% concentration, try to build up momentum and then who knows...

  • Comment number 53.

    Another day, another collection of comments writing United off. You'd think people would learn after 20 years

  • Comment number 54.

    bdyke04. . .
    Am on the move, Utd dint play well on the day but there is no justification for poor officiation, no excuse absolutely, so, seeing Arsenal well outplayed over both legs by Barca, would there have been any justification had there been dodgy officiation. . .hell no, sorry to say but the premiership's officiation is really weired, below standard. How about when the top four (Liverpool inclusive) meet, Colina returns to the center field. . .? there is too much at steak, from Bets to High Per tention for such a match to be decided by utter nonesense. . .

  • Comment number 55.

    34. At 09:53am on 07 Apr 2010, chimus wrote:



    -----------------------

    I do understand what you are saying but in recent weeks he has been putting in a good performence and his experience has been praised at most recent games i've been to at OT

    The whole of our team was to blame for the Bayern nightmare, we scored an early goal and played poor football afterwards, the midfield constantly gave the ball away and put a lot of un needed pressure on the back 4. I know GNEV is a bit of a comedy icon but he puts the shift in and i don't think he is as much of a liability as you think he is.

    Cheers

  • Comment number 56.

    Its all well and good talking about 'Old Trafford rocking' and 'Man Utd playing with passion, backs against the wall' but the most fundamental ingredient you need to win a football match is talent and, bar Rooney, Man Utd have a chronic lack of it.

    This showed against Chelsea, and will show again tonight. Take the premier league. Man Utd have scored 72 goals, 26 from Rooney and 11 from own goals. That leaves Man Utd 35 league goals without Rooney or luck.

    With Robben and Ribery marauding the wings tonight, i cant see Man Utd getting anything

  • Comment number 57.

    United go from being a great team to 'merely' good without Rooney.

    No silverware for old rednose this season - tee hee :o))

    --------------------

    I think you'll find they have silverware already this season

  • Comment number 58.

    IF United make it through tonight it will have to be considered one of Ferguson's greatest European achievements.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Rubbish.

  • Comment number 59.

    United, for all that I dont like about them, do usually have two things that most others dont, temperament and desire,that is why even though in the last 2 seasons they have not pulled up trees with their free flowing football (and Utd fans admit that), they have still won the EPL, could quite conceivably do it again, have appeared in successive CL finals and could do it again.

    They are quite likely to overcome Bayern tonight even without their talisman, although I will be rooting for Bayern for several reasons

    1. Lack of English sides in the last 4 will at least puncture the myth of how great the EPL is. In an open game when have any of the English teams produced quality to ENTHRAL the neutral like Barca, yes they have neutralised Barca at times but have they taken them on in a football sense, have they hell.

    2. Seeing 3 European names of known pedigree may re-invigorate the tournament in a competitive sense, Liverpool's fall from grace is great simply because "sameness" in the top4 brings "staleness" and "boredom", likewise the Champions League.

    3. The German system of financial restraint, whilst it has its imperfections, it is far better than the EPL and also serves the fan better in terms of prices for one thing. If Bayern do well, maybe that will be a sign that there is another way to success other than the greed created by the EPL.

    4. Does any neutral seriously want any other winner than Barca ?

  • Comment number 60.

    Have you become a 'closet Man U fan', Phil?!

    - United have a tough one tonite. Berba should play a holding role in a 442. The 451 doesn't work with him. It's about time Ferg realises that. Put Macheda or Diouf in from get go!

    - 1-0 is a dangerous strategy. It paid off against Barca, though.

    We have a better defense. Midfields are comparable. Our wingers are better than the Rib-Rob combo.

    We should go through, playing 442.

  • Comment number 61.

    @53 - unfortunately Manchester Utd's team this season is a long way short of previous great Utd teams. Bayern also have a rich history and tradition and will fancy this one. Still, nothing like a bit of blind British optimism..

    Manchester Utd will need a magnificent performance tonight to progress.

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm from Germany and read some of the english journalism, blogs and messageboards about the United vs Bayern games.

    Most of the journalists and fans concentrade on Bayerns great possession game and passing and how v. Bommel dominated the midfield when they talk about the first game, and on the second game, all is focused on wether Rooney and Robben can play.

    Almost nobody writes about Bastian Schweinsteiger, and if, they get it rather wrong, as they think of him as the young gun on the wings, who they know from the last Euro or Worldcup.

    In fact, Schweinsteiger since this season is Bayern´s central, holding midfielder. The focal point, the metronom of Bayerns game. He is the player with the most ball contacts, not even for Bayern but the whole3 Bundesliga. He connects Bayerns defense and offense, does the important tackles, has the most miles under his feet and delivers the ball to the attacking midfield or wing outlets.

    If you highly rated v. Bommels game, then think of Schweinsteiger as the man, that in Bayerns gameplan has equal duties, as both both playing a well concerted mix of position 6 and 8, but with more running, more passes, more tackles. You will find Schweinsteiger behind v. Bommel and in front of him, because he has a much higher work rate, better skills, better passing, better vision. Think of v. Bommel + 25%.

    So for Bayern fans, the question wether Robben can make it or not, is of much lesser importance than the joy of having Schweinsteiger back in the line-up, because he, maybe, can neutralize what ManUtd. may add to their game in front of their home crowd, trying to come back from a 2:1 defeat.

  • Comment number 63.

    I was full of confidence before the Munich match. Having lost Rooney and on the back of a home defeat by Chelsea, when we could do even with a draw, makes me very wary of tonight's match. It doesn't help knowing that we were convincingly outplayed on the first half, on Saturday.

    If there is any optimism for tonight, it might be found on:

    a) the fans supporting the team and helping them to find an extra gear;
    b) the improvement of Man Utd on the second half, when Nani came in.

    Both teams will be tired, as both teams had crucial matches at the weekend. But Bayern will be on a high, as they beat main rivals for the title, away. And they only need a draw.

    When SAF says he would be happy with a 1-0 win, you have to worry.

  • Comment number 64.

    Phil,drogba's goal might be an offside but its still a quality goal from a quality striker.it leaves little to wonder why macheda's 'handball' goal is not as discussed as drogba's goal.will not be surprised if i see man u strugglin' tonight if bayern is able to put half of what chelsea did at OT.Let the best team progress!

  • Comment number 65.

    "It is also worth nothing that some intelligent runs went ignored on Saturday as he was left in isolation for too long."

    Did you mean to say this Phil? Or was it "worth noting"?

  • Comment number 66.

    Agree with 16

    I don't think you can play all 3 veterans from start.

    I think starting with Valencia and Nani on the wings is a must.

    I'd like to see Rafael start, I think he could do a better job on Ribery than Neville did last week.

    We must be looking to attack at any given opportunity, even if we get an early goal, we should not sit back.

    Question: should Berb be the lone striker and Man u pack their midfield with 5?

  • Comment number 67.

    As a german Bayern supporter, I rate the chances 50:50, but I strengthen my confidence with 3 statistical facts:

    Bayern never lost at OT.

    Bayern scored at least 1 goal in 19 of their last 20 CL away games.

    Bayern won 23 times a first game of CL KO rounds in the history of that competition. After them, they reached the next round 22 times.

  • Comment number 68.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm trying to work out if it was a fever dream or some sort of divine vision that prompted SAF to sign Micheal Owen.

    Either way, he obviously misheard whatever the message was... although I will admit it's easy to confuse "Own" and "Owen". And on the plus side, he didn't have to pay a fee for either of them.

    Out of all the predictions about ManU scoring however many goals, here's my contribution.

    At least 2 Man U players will receive bookings for diving... and one other will be given his marching orders (probably Vidic, he's most scared of pace).


    And, in reply to Nagi claiming there'll only be one EPL referee at the World Cup because they're rubbish... go check the rules. You'll find the limiting factor isn't their quality, it's just no country is ALLOWED more than one ref. Nothing to do with marketability.

  • Comment number 70.

    GunnerCotchy wrote:

    With Robben and Ribery marauding the wings tonight, i cant see Man Utd getting anything

    My response:

    Gunner Cotchy I renew battle with you once more after you ignored my reply on Phil's 'United heap more misery on Benitez' blog.

    Probably the reason for this being I made you look daft!

    Now on to this comment!

    Gunnercotchy wrote:

    With Robben and Ribery marauding the wings tonight, i cant see Man Utd getting anything

    My response:

    Firstly do you mean anything from tonights game i.e. draw or win, or the tie as a whole.

    Really I think Robben's return is being overhyped dramatcally.

    He has proved himself to very inconsistent over the years, hence why Chelsea got rid of him. He is very predictable, always coming inside so all you need to do is show him on the outside, and he will be ineffective.

    if he plays he will probably play on the right, meaning his outside will mean him using his right-foot which is purely a standing foot for Robben.

    If employed on the right he will be up against probably the best left back in the world based on form this season, - please don't mention his error in the first leg, everyone can make a mistake.

    Now to Ribery. A great player no doubt but he can't be considered among the world's best.

    His contribution in the first leg, was scoring a deflected freekick, and he played a great ball over the top which could have been seized upon if the ball was controlled better. Was tricky throughout, causing problems, but nothing major. Talk of 65 million for him is nothing but outrageous!

    United's problem will not be at the back, - we are starting to look steady again. It will be finding enough fire power for me that poses the problem, I think we'll do it though!

    Not sure grapes is it Gunnercotchy?






  • Comment number 71.

    GunnerCotchy

    United have scored 45 at home and 32 away this season, maths may not be my strongest point, but I make that 77 goals, so I suggest you check your statistics before you write your drivel.

    As for the 'luck', admittedly United have had an unusually large amount of own goals in their favour this season, but do these goals not stem from pressure inside the oppositions penalty box??

    Rooney is a striker, it's his job to score goals, the majority of which have come from assists provided by the 'talentless' players he plays alongside. I have to say I'm getting a little bored of the 'one man team' comments from envious fans. It was ok when Henry was scoring 30 goals plus a season for Arsenal, but when United get a player that scores the majority of the team’s goals, they become a one man team. It was the same with Ronaldo in the previous two seasons.

    Change the record

  • Comment number 72.

    No Rooney, no chance!

  • Comment number 73.

    HudsonLA. . .if you carefully went through my posting, you will realise i saw Neville's foul on Anelka.

  • Comment number 74.

    First you'll have to excuse my typing, ive donated my glasses to the 'linesmen at old trafford are blind' fund just so no more officials have any excuse for ruining an entire season on a HUGE offside, by a big player, wearing a bright blue shirt.

    think your right about the performance in the chelsea game though , united will need to show some effort tonight certainly berbatov needs to.

  • Comment number 75.

    68. At 11:50am on 07 Apr 2010, Cerebral_Footballer wrote:
    United vs. Bayern Preview:

    http://www.cerebralfootballer.com/2010/04/manchester-united-vs-bayern-munich-preview/

    Rubbish

  • Comment number 76.

    @62. At 11:35am on 07 Apr 2010, starofthesouth wrote:

    Excellent input and point well taken! I think Bayern, riding on confidence, are a real threat. As a Utd fan I don't think it's about Berba at all.....it's about the midfield. Utd need big big performances from Fletcher, Carrick, Nani and Valencia to get through.

    The two losses in tha past week have been all about the midfield for me and Fergie should definitely NOT play both Scholes and Giggs, if either.

    It's finely balanced but I have a bad feeling about this one.

  • Comment number 77.

    There has been a straightforward way to beat Man Utd, exemplified against Barcelona in the Champions' League final last year as well as by Liverpool, Bayern and Chelsea - simply stifle the midfield. When Giggs / Scholes / Fletcher are harassed, given no time on the ball, the possession gets lost or the ball is mis-passed and the whole machine breaks down. SAF needs to find a way through this Achilles heel.

  • Comment number 78.

    Being a United fan, iam quite worried about this evening. Iv got a bad feeling SAF is going to want to play Park on the wing along with either Valencia OR Nani, rather than playing those two together.

    This is a shame because i could see them posing real threats. However, you have to look at their wingers and thats where our problems lie.

    I am hopeful (not expectant) that we will win 2-0, then get to the final after beating either french side.

    And as long as we decide to give Barca a good game in the final this year, i wouldnt be too fussed if we lost, especially if Messi decides to churn out another 4...

  • Comment number 79.

    @67

    Stats and records; they are all gonna be broken one day.

  • Comment number 80.

    I said when the draw was made that although they would be favourites throughout, Bayern would be a tough game for united (many united fans saw it as an easy draw). I still stand by that now, it will be a tough game for united tonight but if they score first i cant see them losing

  • Comment number 81.

    United can do it tonight, it is going to be one of those magical old trafford nights. Yes we will struggle without Rooney he is key but here's a question take Lionel Messi out of the Barcelona team and lets see how good they are!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    intresting to read also that the 2 officials involved in sat match at old trafford have been demoted to championship football too, can't see anyone awarding man u the point they should have though?

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree Man U will win tonight - 3-2!!

  • Comment number 84.

    # 64. At 11:39am on 07 Apr 2010, Otah chiedozie wrote:
    Phil,drogba's goal might be an offside but its still a quality goal from a quality striker.it leaves little to wonder why macheda's 'handball' goal is not as discussed as drogba's goal.will not be surprised if i see man u strugglin' tonight if bayern is able to put half of what chelsea did at OT.Let the best team progress!
    _________________________________________

    Otah, if you objectively watched the Man U - Chelsea game, you will remember that Man U upped the tempo in the second half and chances had started coming through. Had that goal not been allowed, Man U would likely have scored a goal and grab a draw and, who knows, even win it! Goals change games, Otah. And when you're 0 - 2 down with 10 minutes to go against a team on a high like Chelsea, that can deflate you. I now understand why Fergie has torn into referees in times past. The decision-making is getting weirder. Sometimes the referees make significant decisions when they're a distance from the scene of a perceived 'crime.'

    Since when did a blatant offside become a quality goal? We've seen a lot of such goals scored but never did anyone call it quality.

    And like you say, "let the best team progress." Should Man U put in double shift and play the way we know them to play on European nights, hopefully you'll say they were the best team on the night. Some objectivity please ...


  • Comment number 85.

    Its always the simple things that get overlooked. Just so you missed them, here they are...

    1, Robben and Ribery are very quick / direct so play fullbacks with pace to counter - DEF NO SPACE FOR NEVILLE. ( see barcelona game - abidal )

    2, FOUR FOUR TWO!!!!!!! If you are to win then first you must score. Nani and valencia on the flanks with Macheda or pref Giggs who has played as striker VERY effectively before. Berbatov is NOT useless despite some of the protests but HE IS NOT A LONE STRIKER, never was, just look at his success at spurs...

    Anyway, that my bit for SAF done and dusted, anyone got his mobile?

  • Comment number 86.

    United's failings in both matches came from a poor performance in the centre of the park. Berbatov was certainly not to blame for the Chelsea game.

    For me the problem came with Scholes as the base of the midfield. When United have control of the ball, he is just the player that you want in your team. He can make things happen and his passing ability can really stretch a defence. In a competitive and energetic centre of the park, he struggles. This was very evident against Bayern and then against Chelsea where he had two of his poorest performances of the season.

    Against Bayern, it was a mistake. Perhaps Fergie didn't expect such a strong performance by Bayern's midfield? As such I was surprised to see him play against Chelsea, although not surprised when the same thing happened.

    Hopefully we'll start with a more energetic midfield tonight and if we're putting the pressure on Bayern with 20-30 minutes to go, needing a goal, with no real way through then in Scholes we could have the perfect player on the bench.

  • Comment number 87.

    Well GunnerCotchy, that indeed is one special post.

    Where do we start?

    Quote "but the most fundamental ingredient you need to win a football match is talent and, bar Rooney, Man Utd have a chronic lack of it."

    Ok, lack of talent, seems a great place to start. Evra, possibly the best left back in the world? Vidic and Ferdinand, two of the best centre backs in the world, i would actually rate Vida higher, but the partnership nontheless is very solid.

    Middfield, where do you start? some of the most talented and decorated footballers to play in english football, actually make that world football... which leaves strikers... well with 2 injured, owen and rooney, obviously we are little short, lacking in talent? obviously not.

    The fact of the matter is, it comes down to what happens on the night, if the tactics are right, and you wouldnt be against it, and the execution of said tactics is right, then you would have to favour manchester united.

    Personally, i feel that uniteds performance in last years champions league final was very influential in the clubs current state. Ultimately what lead to this protective 5 in midfield as Anderson and Carrick were found wanting in rome. Although im a fan of the 5 in midfield, i do not feel it works with berbatov alone, as he plays too deep, thus causing an overcrowded midfield and offering very little in attack. So id definately like to see Macheda start and some self belief





  • Comment number 88.

    Post # 17

    " I think our experience will count for everything tonight, with players like Scholes and Giggs putting in performances proving to critics why they are still playing for the best club in the world.

    Man of the match shout ...... Antonio Valencia, he is going to cause carnage tonight and may even get on the scoresheet.

    United to win 3-0. "


    Over the years I have noticied that overconfident supporters often predict a 3 0 win for their teams. i.e they believe it will be easy.
    I' ve also noticied that , not only do their teams never win 3 0, they as often as not actually lose.

  • Comment number 89.


    Manchester United and Bayern Munich are two world class footballing giants on the Planet. With so many national and international stars doing duty this evening, the two teams are sure to entertain lovers of football throughout the length and breadth of the football-conscious world. In Alex Ferguson and Louis Van Gaal the two teams have football managers who love to see their sides attack and counter-attack all the time. Let's wish the players and fans a fine football evening.

  • Comment number 90.

    Jamie Riley, what reply on the 'Man Utd heap more misery on Benitez' blog are you chatting bout? And Robben is Bayerns top goal scorer this season with 14 league goals, not bad for a winger (more than Nani, Valencia, Giggs etc). Watch his goal away to Fiorentina and im sure you'll agree hes a fairly corking player. And could you clarify what 'sure grapes' are, i havent come across that term

  • Comment number 91.

    I think Fergie is just keeping LVG on his toes with is remarks about Rooney. I doubt he will risk Rooney, not with him not training this week. Based on the first leg display where we had 1 man up top who just got marked out of the game, I would suggest dropping JS Park and bringing in Kiko Macheda to play alongide Berba. Nani, Valenica, Carrick and Fletcher in midfield. Or perhaps play Giggs behind Berba, more attacking threat than Park. Goes against what we have done so far this season in the big games but perhaps we need to change things to make up for losing Rooney...

  • Comment number 92.

    intresting to read also that the 2 officials involved in sat match at old trafford have been demoted to championship football too, can't see anyone awarding man u the point they should have though?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    whiney whiney whiner!!

    Man Utd get enough handouts during the season as it is - do you think if Mick McCarthy or Steve Bruce or any other premiership manager had said what Ferguson said that the referee and official would be at Bristol City next week?

    No chance - they would have been given those officials again.

    Ferguson should be taking the rough with the smooth just like everyone else seemingly has to do. Chelsea would have won anyway.

  • Comment number 93.

    Phil,

    I am concerned about United's inability to create clear cut chances - especially in Rooney's absence. The defeat to Chelsea on the weekend exposed United's lack of creativity which has been clearly present throughout the current campaign at home in the EPL and the Champions League. I sincerely hope that we will be able to rise to the occasion against Bayern, otherwise the season will certainly be a write off.

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm a Manchester United fan, so I don't really object to us getting lots of coverage, but I can only assume Phil Minshull is going to be the one to blog about last nights extraordinary performance.

  • Comment number 95.

    Even highly paid and hugely talented players get used to 'one man band' centre forwards. Now that the Chelsea defeat is a memory, the reality of who strikes on goal should be a thought for Giggs, Berbatov, and Fletcher. Carrick, Valencia, and Co, should also think about getting on target. M.U. to win by 2 clear goals.

  • Comment number 96.

    It's got a score draw written all over it..without Rooney, United will lack that cutting edge and Bayern will sneak in the odd goal (or two).

    Bye Bye Manchester United...your weekus horribilus has cost you both the league and European Cup...

  • Comment number 97.

    Phil's blogs are the ONLY ones worth reading on the BBC website whoever you support. The rest of the bloggers should be elsewhere on the web. Keep up the good work, Phil. The only football journalist at the Beeb.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hello Phil, you know that Man Utd is not Arsenal. the lads know very well that we need to score each time the chance or mistake this Bayern will make and it is important that our defenders clear ball first time. i dare those saying without Rooney, we can not score. we will score at least 1 or 2 goals tonight. the only big issue here is the starting line up. i will be confortable if S.A.F play it like this;
    VDS
    Rafeal, Rio, Vidic, Evra
    Valencia, Scholes, Fletcher,Nani
    Macheda,Barba
    this will provide more power and am 1oo% sure it will work.
    Go Go Man u we are behind as you alway do when pipo think you are down.

  • Comment number 99.

    In reply to Gunnercotchy (90)

    273. At 2:52pm on 22 Mar 2010, GunnerCotchy wrote:
    Vintage Mcnulty. The only time you'll ever criticise your beloved Liverpool is if their defeated by your even more beloved Man Utd.

    My response to that was:

    He's the only person I have ever met then that loves Man United and Liverpool.

    Bit of a queer one that!

    Next example

    GunnerCotchy wrote:

    Trust a Man Utd fan to know nothing about any other team. We were desperately poor in the first half of the season? Results like these beg to differ:

    Everton 1-6 Arsenal Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn Arsenal 4-0 Wigan Wolves 1-4 Arsenal Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth

    Any Arsenal fan will tell you that we've been worse since the turn of the year. Whereas you played poorly consistently from August to December (as even Alan Hansen noted), we have merely played poorly in isolated games i.e. Man Utd, Chelsea, Sunderland.

    Ah well, lets talk after you've played Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham. Ive got an inkling youre tone may be different...

    My response to that was:

    Firstly why haven't you replied to my post 299, proved to look silly? Just a thought, - correct me if I'm wrong.

    Now to 389:

    I don't agree with the poster who you replied to you'll be pleased to know, however I'm not in total agreement with your reply weither.

    Gunner Cotchy wrote:

    Everton 1-6 Arsenal Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn Arsenal 4-0 Wigan Wolves 1-4 Arsenal Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth

    My reply:

    Any team in the league can pick out a result/ (and most a good few results) to argue against them playing poorly.

    For instance:

    Man Utd 2 Arsenal 1 (you did play well in this match), Man City 4 Arsenal 2, Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0, Arsenal 0 Chelsea 3.

    Gunner Cotchy picking out a couple of results doesn't indicate you have played consitently well for the first half of the season, points total is a better indication, as the saying goes the table doesn't lie.

    Next point:

    Gunner Cotchy wrote:

    Whereas you played poorly consistently from August to December.

    My response:

    I wouldn't say consistently popor I described our form until Christmas as patchy. We put in a great perfromance at White Hart Lane in beating them 3-1 (perhaps to your pleasure) and our 2-0 win at Stoke was a phenomenal all-round display.

    Contrast this to our home displays to Sunderland and Villa and like I said it would indicate how patchy we had been.

    But this is exactly the reason United end up as Champions. Despite acording to you us playing 'poorly consistently from August to December' we are still right in the mix, and according to you in that time period Arsenal played very well excluding a couple of performances.

    The difference is United under Ferguson have this canny ability to pull themselves over the line (on numerious occasions) when playing by their own high standards - blatantly average (much to my and many other fellow reds pleasure, I'm sure it's infuriating for you).

    If Arsenal had played as incostinetly as United in the first half of the season, they would have been way off the pace (atleast 10 points in my opinion) and that highlights the difference.

    One can get by playing poorly the other can't.

    Thankfully the one that can is my own team.

    More confusion now.

    Why do you have this opinion that Man United and Liverpool get along so well?

    I can categorically say they don't.

    First Philnow Hansen.

    Gunner Cotchy wrote:

    Any Arsenal fan will tell you that we've been worse since the turn of the year. Whereas you played poorly consistently from August to December (as even Alan Hansen noted)

    My reply:

    What do you mean even Alan Hansen noted? Surely being an ex-Liverpool player, he will take pleasure in United struggling (although admittedly he hides it well).

    From what your saying he is biased towards Man United!

    A reply?








  • Comment number 100.

    Remember if Bayern score, the permutations may be complex and could work to Man United's detriment. I hope we can produce one of those AS Roma nights.

    ------------------------------

    Well, not complex at all, really. If Bayern score we need to score two to tie the scores.

 

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