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Wolfsburg v Manchester United: Van Gaal expects defensive hosts in European decider

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal expects Wolfsburg to play defensively in Tuesday’s crunch Champions League clash in Germany.

United are under extreme pressure going into the game. They know a win would see them progress to the last 16 as Group B winners, but failure to do so will see them eliminated if PSV better their result at home against CSKA Moscow.

Hosts Wolfsburg only require a draw to progress past the group stage for the first time in their history, while a victory would guarantee they finish top of the group.

Van Gaal believes the requirements of both teams mean Wolfsburg are likely to set up with a defensive strategy.

“Yes, we can win because we have also won at home against them,” he said after a frustrating 0-0 Premier League draw against West Ham.

“But that was a difficult match and I know that also Wolfsburg shall not attack too much because with a draw, they continue and we are dependent on PSV.

“Every match, we have chances and, in our European matches, we have created more chances than in the Premier League matches. We know we have to score in Wolfsburg.

“We have to play against a very good team. I am convinced we can do it but we have to be more composed in front of goal.”

The Bundesliga side have won both of their two home games in the campaign so far without conceding, while United only have one point from their two away fixtures.

Van Gaal’s men therefore need as many key players as possible fit to play, but Paddy McNair and Morgan Schneiderlin have emerged as fresh fitness doubts. 

Wayne Rooney (ankle) is already a doubt, while Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Phil Jones and long-term absentees Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia have also been missing.

“Paddy McNair has an ankle problem and Schneiderlin is a little bit stiff in the hip, so we have to wait and see as always on that,” said the Dutchman.

“I hope they can play on Tuesday but it is a very short [turnaround] so it is a very big question mark. Playing on Saturday, resting on Sunday and travelling on Monday is not ideal for a Tuesday match but we have to cope.”

Van Gaal is hopeful experienced Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger can prove an inspiration in his first match back in his homeland since swapping Bayern Munich for United.

He added: “The reason why we have bought Schweinsteiger is that he is a player who can lead or guide a team. That is important – not only his football qualities – but that he can lead and guide a team on the pitch.

“I believe that every match that he plays he can play better because until now we have not seen the best Schweinsteiger that I have seen at Bayern Munich, but he can guide the team.”

Wolfsburg suffered a dramatic 2-1 home loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday and are not on a strong run of form domestically, winning only one of their last four in the league.

But Luiz Gustavo (back) has returned to training after missing three matches, Julian Draxler is fit again after an adductor injury and Robin Knoche (ankle) was fit enough for the bench against Dortmund.

Sun 6 Dec, 2015
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