Manchester United host European champions Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie this evening.
The Red Devils poor season has been well documented and the Champions League is United’s last chance of silverware this season, even if it is a slim chance.
United drawing Bayern was probably the worst draw the Red Devils could have wished for.
Drawing any of the remaining seven teams would have been regarded as difficult, but Bayern have proven over the last season and a half they are a cut above the rest of their European rivals.
United will go into the two-legged quarter-finals very much as underdogs. It is very difficult to see David Moyes men progressing past the German and European champions.
Bayern’s last two defeats in the Champions League have come against English opposition. Arsenal defeated the Bavarians 2-0 at the Allianz Arena last season, while Manchester City comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 in Bavaria in the group stage of this season’s competition.
Bayern seem to have a blind spot when it comes to playing against English sides. Whether that will stretch to their tie against United is doubtful.
Over the last few seasons the European champions have built a superb squad of players. Every summer the Bavarians seem to strengthen their squad. Last summer the likes of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara arrived in Munich.
Bayern obviously subscribe to the idea of strengthening when you are strong, rather than waiting until you are weak. Manchester United failed to strengthen their squad last summer after they claimed the Premier League title and they are now suffering for it under David Moyes.
Bayern have started the process of strengthening their squad for next season already with Dortmund’s Polish international striker Robert Lewandowski joining the German champions in the summer. No doubt the Bavarians will strengthen further this summer.
Pep Guardiola’s team have already secured the Bundesliga title this season. Bayern are still unbeaten in the German top-flight and drawn just three games.
It would be crazy for anybody to claim that Manchester United have anywhere near the individual talent of Bayern. They simply cannot compete player to player. Bayern have players with special talent, who can have a major effect on games.
Manchester United have a few talented players, but not on the same level as Bayern. England striker Wayne Rooney is United’s shining light and played a part in the Red Devils win against Olympiakos in the last round.
Rooney also scored a double in United’s 4-1 win over Aston Villa last weekend. Despite not having a particularly great season, Dutch international striker Robin van Persie will be missed. Van Persie scored the hat-trick which saw United progress to the quarter-final, but the Dutchman will miss the game, after picking up an injury late-on in the Olympiakos victory.
There are very few others players in the United team that are regarded as stand-out performers. Very few of United’s team would get anywhere near the Bayern team.
That would not have been the case in the majority of recent European campaigns. The German champions have made steady progress from nearly-men to conquerors of Europe in the last few seasons.
Manchester United have gone backwards in that time and the contrast between the two clubs squad of players is stark.
The Champions League has saw a number of football miracles involving English teams in the last decade, from Liverpool winning the trophy in 2005 after coming back from 3-0 down, to Chelsea winning the Champions League in Bayern’s own back yard in 2012.
If Manchester United went all the way this season, then that would be a minor football miracle. United are odds of 33/1 to win the Champions League this season, the longest odds of any of the remaining eight teams in the competition.
Being eighth favourites out of eight teams is a very unfamiliar scenario for United and is an illustration of how poor Manchester United have been this season.
Manchester United boss David Moyes has suffered a miserable first season in charge at Old Trafford. The Red Devils performances this season have not been those of champions. Unfortunately for Manchester United I can only see more misery for United from this tie.
Bayern Munich simply have a stronger team unit and a more tactical astute boss in the dugout. Good luck United, you are going to need it.
Can Manchester United cause a shock against Bayern Munich?