Following the derby drubbing to Manchester City the mood at Old Trafford is unsurprisingly glum. The stage is all set for Guardiola’s men to truly showcase to the whole world the difference of class between Europe’s best and England’s current champions.
As is so often with European nights at Old Trafford, the footballing universe will look on as Pep’s men lock horns with Moyes’s men. Many will see it simply as a formality for the German champions however a small selection of Manchester United supporters, including me, will hope against hope for an upset. An improbable upset. We will dare to dream, the impossible dream.
“The big challenges are the biggest stage and it is a true test of all footballers in Europe,” said former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who, like Sir Matt Busby had done before him, immediately grasped the notion that, for all their desire to succeed domestically, Manchester United live and die by the European Cup.
Having lifted European club football’s most coveted prize twice under Fergie’s tutelage, United enter uncharted territory tonight, when they welcome Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford in David Moyes’ first Champions League match in charge of the club.
Manchester United kick off their Champions League campaign against Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford this evening, the first time United enter the competition with a different manager other than Sir Alex Ferguson.
The game also marks David Moyes’ debut in the competition proper, as the former Everton manager’s only previous experience in the competition dates back to the 2005-06 season when the Toffees were knocked out in the third qualifying round by Villareal, who would then go on to reach the semifinals that season.
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Two European giants meet up in this glamorous Champions League quarter-final. Check out who we’re backing with our soccer picks.
This Wednesday we see the first leg of what should be a cracking last eight affair.
Barcelona takes on Milan at the San Siro and are the favorites in the soccer odds at the moment. They can be found anywhere from +370 to +453, which seems like great value for a team as talented as the Rossoneri.
The Catalan powerhouses are at -145 at in places and -148 at others, which again could be interpreted as good value on Messi & company. This is a team that not only doesn’t lose, they have a tendency to win big.
They might call it a draw, but the picture drawn in Nyon last week left nothing to the imagination. If anything, it was permeated with a feeling of inevitability, an inevitability that would make a bookmaker smile; well, them and UEFA, obviously! Savvy punters would possibly have used their free bets on Real Madrid avoiding Barcelona had there been a market, as it is, the draw has kept the distinct possibility of that becoming the glamour final of glamour finals.
To the governing body of European football, the Champions League draw must be the equivalent of watching the premiere of a thriller already knowing who the killer is or if our heroes will make up and live happily ever after.
Manchester United failed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 2005-06 season, after losing 2-1 in Basel on a disappointing night.
Last year’s finalist paid the price for making a mess of what was widely regarded to be the easiest group in the competition and stumbled to a defeat, when a draw would have been enough to progress.
In all honesty, it is not often I can look back on a Manchester United draw in satisfaction. However, following a couple of weeks where attacking play seems like a taboo, United fans anticipated a strong offensive performance when Benfica visited Old Trafford for their Champions League crunch match.
After the Derby Day slaughtering at Old Trafford, the Red Devils have kept 5 clean sheets on the trot, something we have not seen from the club in over two years…..they were not destined to make it 6 though.
The Portuguese outfit entered the pitch with only one thing in mind – Attack! They started energetically and brightly, they set a high line, and pressured United from the outset.
How did United manage to get it tactically right but fail to take all three points after falling behind in the opening minutes?