Manchester United welcome Wolfsburg to Old Trafford and Manchester City travel to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday night, in the latest edition of England versus Germany. Fortunately for the city of Manchester in this instance, there is absolutely no chance that the Germans can win on penalties.
A rivalry older than Angela Merkel herself tends to throw up some brilliant games (the 1999 Champions League Final) and some woeful refereeing decisions (1966 World Cup Final and 2010 World Cup quarterfinal). In 78 Champions League matches (since the competition was introduced in 1992) English teams have the advantage having won 40, with the Germans winning 22 and 16 clashes ending all square. That’s a 51 per cent strike rate for Queen and country and the odds suggest it could get better on Wednesday, but football is rarely straightforward…
Manchester United duck marginally under this national average when facing Ze Germans in the Champions League – the Red Devils have a 48 per cent win rate from 23 matches. That goes up to 55 per cent at home though, and Louis van Gaal’s side are to pick up another victory at Old Trafford against Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg are infrequent visitors to England’s green lands in European competition, and despite the lure of Butlins, fish and chips and intermittent sunshine, they’ve only faced England sides five times in all European competitions. They’ve lost four of those five meetings, and their only win was a 3-2 victory against Portsmouth in the 2008/09 Uefa Cup. Their only previous visit to Old Trafford ended in a 2-1 defeat with Edin Dzeko scoring the opener, before Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick secured three points. It’s for lightening to strike twice and United to pick up a 2-1 win.
As for Manchester City, their record against German sides in the Champions League leaves a lot to be desired. Two wins from six matches makes for unpleasant reading if you’re a City fan, and just the single win in three trips to Germany would make you choke on your bratwurst. That was of course, a memorable 3-2 win against Bayern Munich in 2013 in which they came from 2-0 down and James Milner grabbed the winner, but the sub-plot to the story is that Munich had already qualified as group winners.
City are the favourites when they travel to Borussia Mochengladbach, but the German side’s record against English sides puts them up with Heidi Klum and Albert Einstein as great German exports. Mochengladbach have won 46 per cent of all European games against English sides since 1970, but if you look at their home form alone they are unbeaten – winning three and drawing once. Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal have all traveled to Mochangladbach and lost in the last 38 years.
Mochengladbach are to spring an upset and beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side in Germany and the tasty double of Mochengladbach and Manchester United pays out 13/2. Not only would that make the Red half of Manchester extremely happy, it could also pocket us £75 from a £10 bet. Enough to pay for a few pints at Octoberfest…