Group B leaders Wolfsburg only need to avoid defeat in their final fixture in order to make it to the next stage, although they will want to get revenge on the Red Devils for the 2-1 loss in September. Meanwhile, Manchester United need to match or better PSV’s result in the final round, which is not going to be an easy task judging by their current form.
Against all odds, Wolfsburg were the only Bundesliga side capable of keeping up with relentless Bayern Munich last season, but the Wolves haven’t done so well on domestic stage this term. Following the 2-1 home loss to Borussia Dortmund, Dieter Hecking’s charges occupy the fifth position in the league standings, although there is a clear reason for the somewhat under-par showings in Germany. Unlike last term, when their Europa League campaign was un unecessary distraction, this time the Champions League games have the priority, and this has proved to be a very good strategy, at least for the time being. While the Wolves are still very much in the top 3 race in Bundesliga, they sit top of their CL group ahead of the final round of fixtures, one and two points clear of Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven. And despite losing the opening fixture at Old Trafford, Wolfsburg recovered well to win three of next four Champions League matches, meaning they now need just another point to secure their progress. Being in a such a position, the hosts may decide to limit their attacking aspirations, but a defence-minded approach is definitely out of question for a side that mostly rely on their attacking qualities.
Coach Dieter Hecking is sweating over the fitness of star midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who has been out with a combination of back and knee injuries, with Joshua Guilavogui ready to deputize if needed.
Julian Draxler returned into action at the weekend and he should keep his place in the side, whereas stopper Dante is back from a domestic suspension.
Following some shocking defensive displays from last season, patching up the leaky defence was high on Louis van Gaal’s list of priorities for the new campaign, and the Dutch manager has succeeded in doing what he had set out to do. Nevertheless, the fans are far from happy with team’s latest performances and there is only one reason for that. For supporters that have witnessed some of world’s most accomplished forwards strutt their stuff at Old Trafford every other week, it is probably painful to watch the current Manchester United side that do not look like scoring even against the relegation strugglers. This is enough to suggest that Louis van Gaal has yet to find the true balance in the side, although we have to be fair and admit that the controversial manager has had his share of selection worries this term. With captain Wayne Rooney out of the picture, Van Gaal has backed Bastian Schweinsteiger to lead the Red Devils to a positive result at Volkswagen Arena, probably counting on his wealth of experience in playing these kinds of matches. But, unless Manchester United shows a major improvement in attack, they will struggle to get the result they need.
Captain Wayne Rooney has failed to recover from an ankle problem, and he remains in England, just like Morgan Schneiderlin, who picked up an injury in the goalless draw with West Ham.
Meanwhile, the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw continue to miss out, but Jesse Lindgard has shaken off a minor knock.
Key Factors to Consider
-Wolfsburg qualify in case of win or draw
-Man Utd need to match PSV’s result to progress
-Wolfsburg kept three clean sheets in last four CL matches at home
-Wolfsburg boast 8-1-2 home record this season
-Man Utd lost three of last five Champions League fixtures on the road
With Wolfsburg in good position to qualify and not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment, there is little chance we will see a repeat of Man Utd’s 3-1 win at Volkswagen Arena achieved back in 2009. The Red Devils have been toothless up front, albeit rock solid at the back, so don’t expect to see too many goals on Tuesday evening.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best Odds: 19/20
Bookmaker: William Hill
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