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Preview: RB Leipzig -v- Manchester United – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 or bust for United

RB Leipzig -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League

RB Arena, Leipzig

Tuesday 8 December 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz Assistants: Pau Cebrián Devís, Roberto del Palomar

Fourth Official: Fabio Verissimo

VAR: Alejandro Hernández Assistant VAR: Ricardo de Burgos

Manchester United will travel to Germany to face RB Leipzig at the RB Arena in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. United top the group, albeit on goal difference right now and require a point to reach the round of 16 of the competition this season. Defeats to Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris Saint-Germain have led to United leaving it late to reach the knockout stages of the competition this season. If they lose and PSG win, the UEFA Europa League could beckon once again. A win or a draw will see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side into the round of 16 draw on Monday 14 December.

Leipzig will not be looking to face defeat like they did against United at Old Trafford earlier this season with United scoring five goals against the club. The German side will have seen that United are defensively imperfect at this moment in time, but United would have seen the same. The German club have not kept a clean sheet in their last five matches, conceding three goals in each of their last two matches. United though have a similar problem – keeping a clean sheet once in five matches and conceding seven goals in their last four matches. This could be a good match but United will need to prevail.

Manchester United: WLWWWW

West Ham United 3-1 W, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 L, Southampton 3-2 W, Istanbul Basaksehir 4-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 1-0 W, Everton 3-1 W

RB Leipzig: DWWLDW

Bayern Munich 3-3 D, Istanbul Basaksehir 4-3 W, Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 W, Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 L, Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 D, SC Freiburg 3-0 W

Top Scorers: 10 goals for both Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford this season whereas Angeliño with six and Yussuf Poulsen with five are the top scorers for the German club.

Manchester United Goals: 10 – Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, 2 – Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United are inconsistent form this season in terms of building something that will develop into the magnificence that we have seen over the years. However, they do seem to be consistent in coming from behind to win matches and winning matches away from home, making it nine in a row after the victory over West Ham United on Saturday. Solskjaer’s side will need to do a lot better if they are to achieve something this season. The leaky defence will need to find a way to stop conceding poor goals with the attackers prevailing in scoring goals which will see United rise from the ashes of inconsistency.

RB Leipzig Goals: 6 – Angeliño, 5 – Yussuf Poulsen, 4 – Emil Forsberg, 3 – Christopher Nkunku, 2 – Amadou Haidara, Marcel Sabitzer, 1 – Marcel Halstenberg, Hwang Hee-chan, Justin Kluivert, Ibrahima Konaté, Nordi Mukiele, Dani Olmo, Willi Orban, Alexander Sørloth, Dayot Upamecano

Leipzig have been a positive side this season and suffered their first defeat against United in the second group stage match this season. In their last two matches though, six goals have been conceded which shows a defensive problem ahead of what will be an important match for the club on Tuesday evening which could see them continue in the Champions League or fall into the Europa League, which is the same fate that could happen for United. A 3-3 draw with Bayern Munich on Saturday will inspire the club against United, but United will be boosted by their victory over the Hammers, coming from behind once again.

Team News: Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial doubts for the match against RB Leipzig; David De Gea could return. Dayot Upamecano suspended, up to five other players could be missing too.

Phil Jones (knee) has been ruled out until after Christmas but he was not named in the squad for the Premier League or the Champions League, so he would not have been eligible to play, if fit, anyway. Luke Shaw (thigh) has returned to training but only has a 25% chance of featuring for United in this match, which seems unlikely. Perhaps he will be stepping up his recovery for the Manchester derby next weekend? Edinson Cavani (muscular) was injured against West Ham, as was Anthony Martial (groin/hip). David De Gea (knee) has a 50% chance for this match. Fred will be suspended after seeing red in the last match.

Dayot Upamecano is suspended for the clash with United at the RB Arena on Tuesday evening. The German club also have Fabrice Hartmann (ruptured knee ligament), Konrad Laimer (ankle fracture), Lukas Klostermann (knee), Benjamin Henrichs (Patella problems), Hee-chan Hwang (coronavirus) who are mostly unavailable for the clash with United. This is a big game for both teams with participation in the Champions League at stake. A win or draw for United will see the Red’s go through but Leipzig will need nothing less than a victory to remain in the competition this season.

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford and Greenwood to lead the line with Fernandes in behind? Pogba to show his ability and drive United into the round of 16 in the Champions League?

United will have to find some answers to overcome their problems on the pitch this season. Whilst they have been pulling results out of the bag, especially away from home, they seem to concede many goals, which is the main thing that will need to be corrected. Playing a three at the back formation has been good for United at times this season, so playing it again could work. Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford should lead the line with Bruno Fernandes in behind them. A midfield four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Alex Telles with a back three of Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire, ahead of David De Gea.

Match Prediction: One match played between these two sides with United victorious in a five-goal thriller at the Theatre of Dreams. This match may not be similar to that with both teams leaking goals recently.

United and Leipzig have met once in the Champions League with United winning 5-0. 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.

RB Leipzig 2-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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