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Preview: A United victory over Leipzig would set Solskjaer’s side up well in the Champions League

Manchester United -v- RB Leipzig

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 28 October 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Matej Jug Assistants: Tomaž Klančnik, Grega Kordež

Fourth Official: Asmir Sagrković

VAR: José María Sánchez Assistant VAR: Bas Nijhuis

Manchester United return to action in the UEFA Champions League as they welcome RB Leipzig to Old Trafford for the first time in the history of European competition. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get back to winning ways after that dire 0-0 draw against Chelsea at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday evening. The victory over Paris Saint-Germain will boost United’s confidence in the competition as they come against the German side that has not been beaten so far this season, only dropping points to Bayern Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann will be seeking a good result in Manchester.

Solskjaer will once against have the services one Anthony Martial for this match with him being suspended domestically for his red card against Tottenham Hotspur, of which he will sit out one more match; the Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday. United rested both Axel Tuanzebe, who played well in his first match after a ten-month injury layoff and summer signings Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles against Chelsea with the trio being fit to face Leipzig. Harry Maguire returned from injury which kept him out against PSG and Edinson Cavani made his United debut, from the bench and almost scoring.

United will be seeking an early qualification from their group with all six group stage matches being played in just eight weeks, with one match each week, then the last international break of 2020 taking a two-week period after three matches have been played, with the following three coming in the weeks after. A win against Leipzig and two wins over Istanbul Basaksehir could see United through with two matches left to play. A defeat or a draw could prolong United group stages into the final two matches, dependant on what happens in the other matches to be played in the group. Solskjaer will be hoping that his toughly United side can prevail.

Manchester United: DWWLWW

Chelsea 0-0 D, Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 W, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, Brighton 3-2 W

RB Leipzig: WWWWDW

Hertha Berlin 2-1 W, Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 W, FC Augsburg 2-0 W, FC Schalke 04 4-0 W, Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 D, FSV Mainz 05 3-1 W

Top Scorers: 17 goals scored for both teams this season with United playing one more competitive match (eight) than Leipzig (seven). Can Edinson Cavani open his account with United this week?

Manchester United Goals: 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, 2 – Juan Mata, 1 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny van de Beek, Harry Maguire, Mason Greenwood, Own Goal, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United’s season has not been as bad as some make out. The 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace and the 1-6 defeat to Spurs have not defined anything really. They are two bad results from a period that United were lacking something; mainly match fitness. It is all well and good to think about things on paper but realistically, this was always likely to happen at some stage this season. The fact that last season dragged on into the summer and no pre-season being planned because of the month between the last season ending and this one starting was a major factor in the start to the season. United are now showing form and are able to steer away from the defeats.

RB Leipzig Goals: 4 – Angelino, 3 – Yussuf Poulsen, 2 – Amadou Haidara, Emil Forsberg, 1 – Dayot Upamecano, Hwang Hee-chan, Marcel Halstenberg, Marcel Sabitzer, Own Goal, Willi Orban

Leipzig will be the team to beat for United. They have started the season unbeaten dropping points against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and beating FC Nürnberg in the first round of the DFB-Pokal this season and Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 in the first group stage match of the Champions League. United and Leipzig have never played a competitive match in the history of both clubs, so it will be another unknown meeting. The German club sold Timo Werner to Chelsea in the summer and could have lost Dayot Upamecano, who is considered as one of their star players at the club currently, so they will still require a bit of fight to get a result.

Team News: Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek to make their first starts against Leipzig at Old Trafford?

Anthony Martial is available to feature for United in the Champions League against RB Leipzig on Wednesday night after serving two of his three match suspension, which will see him serve his final match against Arsenal on Sunday, being available to feature in the Premier League against Everton. United have three players on the sidelines through injury; Phil Jones (knee), who has not been named in any squad this season, Jesse Lingard (other), Eric Bailly (muscular). It is expected that Edinson Cavani is fit and ready to go, which will take the strain off Marcus Rashford a little as the matches start to come thick and fast at this stage of the season.

Leipzig have some injury/illness problems head of the visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday evening with seven players on the sidelines with Amadou Haidara (COVID-19 isolation) unlikely to face United after testing positive for COVID-19 on the 20 October and will have to isolate for at least ten days. Lukas Klostermann (knee surgery), Konrad Laimer (ankle fracture), Fabrice Hartmann (knee ligament rupture), Marcel Halstenberg (personal), Nordi Mukiele (hamstring) and Tyler Adams (MCL) are all injury doubts with only Halstenberg likely to be an option providing his personal situation allows him to return to the fold.

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford and Martial to lead the line against Leipzig? Fernandes, Pogba and Van de Beek in midfield with Telles and Tuanzebe returning to the defence?

I am sure that many will be expecting to see a three at the back formation against Leipzig on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford. However, I don’t think that is what will happen. I get the impression that Solskjaer will not set up his side like that at the Theatre of Dreams. In the latter stages of the match against PSG, when Paul Pogba came on, United seemed to revert to a midfield diamond which helped to win them the match. I think that this could be the case against the Bundesliga leaders later this week. It would be good to see the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Pogba and Donny van de Beek playing together in midfield with Fred playing the defensive role.

Match Prediction: Leipzig is an unknown challenge for United this season having never met their German opposition, despite playing clubs from the same country 31 times in European competition.

United and Leipzig have not yet met competitively in Europe but United have played German opposition many times in European competition. The first German team played was Borussia Dortmund in 1956 followed by FK Vorwärts Berlin in 1965 with Dortmund again in 1997 followed by FC Bayern München in 1998 and 1999 in what was a good season for United. The Red Devils have also faced Bayer 04 Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart, VfL Wolfsburg and FC Schalke 04. United have played 31 matches against German clubs, winning 15, drawing eight and losing eight. United have scored 55 goals, conceding 36 against German clubs.

United have faced Bayern München the most when playing against German clubs with eleven matches being played against the club with United winning twice, drawing five times and being defeated four times. One of the wins was in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, a 2-1 victory in Barcelona. The last German team to face United in the competition was Wolfsburg in the group stages of the competition five years ago, winning once and losing once. Leipzig have faced Tottenham Hotspur in the round of 16 in the Champions League last season, their only English opposition, winning 4-0 on aggregate; 1-0 in London and 3-0 in Leipzig.

Manchester United 2-1 RB Leipzig

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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