Attack. Attack. Attack attack attack. No, it’s not David Cameron’s foreign policy but the cry from United fans to Louis van Gaal. A boring, drab nil-all draw against PSV means that United are now staring down the barrel of group-stage elimination. They need to come out on top in Wolfsburg to qualify, anything less and they are relying on CSKA Moscow doing them a favour.
The offensive stats aren’t kind to Van Gaal’s side. Lowest scorers of the top teams in England, top scorer is a midfielder (Juan Mata, with four). They’ve created the third least number of chances in the Premier League, only Newcastle and West Brom have less. They have just over 51 per cent shot accuracy, but will need to be far more clinical on Wednesday, especially in the absence of Wayne Rooney. Another insipid 0-0 on Saturday against West Ham saw United booed off the field.
United’s carelessness in front of goal is a concern but their defence has been superb.
Only five defensive errors in 18 games, with just one leading to a goal. The tightest defence in England, conceded just 10 goals in those 18 games.
It’s a must win game for the Red Devils and if they can nick one early expect LVG to shore up the defence and see his side win to nil at .
Wolfsburg are no pushovers though and could be leading the Bundesliga if it wasn’t for their shocking away form. One win from seven away games has the Wolves sitting third behind the two giants of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund.
Scoring hasn’t been a problem either, 20 goals in 14 games. Their man threats have been in the form of Bas Dost and Max Kruse, netting seven and five goals respectively.
But they had a disappointing weekend. Having been behind for most of the game at home to Dortmund, a last-minute Ricardo Rodriguez penalty looked to have salvaged a point, only for ex-United player Shinji Kagawa to net a winner in added time.
The Red Devils have a decent record in Germany, having won four, lost four and drawn five. They beat Wolfsburg in 2009 in the group stages 3-1, thanks to a Michael Owen hat-trick. No, really, that actually happened. There’s no Owen on Tuesday night – though (given United’s shyness in front of goal what would they give for a goal-poacher like him in his prime now) but LVG can silence his critics at Old Trafford and guide them through to the knock-out stages.
United’s noisy neighbours Manchester City are already through Group D, but will be looking to snatch top spot away from Juventus. The Old Lady are away at Sevilla, while City host Borussia Monchengladbach.
City rested three key players in the weekend defeat at Stoke. Any of Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, or Yaya Toure could make an appearance on Tuesday. But despite having nothing to play for, Borussia won’t be pushovers. They became the first side to beat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga all season at the weekend, thanks to three second-half goals. Expect an open game and with both sides wanting to win, it could be worth backing both teams to score at .
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Benfica and Atletico Madrid have a straight shoot-out for top spot in Group C. In October, the Portugese side stunned the 2014 finalists at the Calderón, coming from behind to win 2-1 and take control of the group.
A slip away at Astana in the last game week let the Spaniards back in however, with both sides now locked on 10 points. A draw would do for Atletí, but the value is in over 2.5 goals at