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United can progress, but it'll be tough in Munich says Thommo

Phil Thompson - Phil Thompson Posted 29th March 2010 view comments

Bill Shankly once said: "The thing that surprises me is that people are surprised by surprises."

That seems to sum up what happened on that famous night in 1999 when Manchester United scored two goals in injury time to win the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

I remember that game very well. I thought Bayern Munich were the far better team on the night and dominated the whole game, but throughout the years Manchester United have been exceptional at scoring last-minute goals.

Robben and Ribery: key men for Bayern

Robben and Ribery: key men for Bayern

You have to play for 90 minutes plus injury time and it's never over until it's over - as they proved on the biggest stage of all. They'll know they didn't deserve to win, but as a player, manager and spectator I have been involved in many games that my team has lost when they should have won.

People shouldn't be surprised by anything. That's football.

History

However, that game is history now and it won't have any bearing when the two teams meet at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. You won't hear Bayern Munich talking about revenge or anything like that. They'll be focussed on the here and now.

If Robben doesn't make it then all of the pressure will be on Ribery to produce. You need exceptional players to do something out of the ordinary in the final third and while United have Wayne Rooney, Bayern will be looking to Ribery.

Phil Thompson
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Bayern have steadily improved as the season has progressed. They were drifting out of the title race but have clawed themselves back into it - although Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen will be pleased to see them lose at home to Stuttgart at the weekend.

I'm sure they had Manchester United on their minds in that game. The fact that a star player like Arjen Robben was on the bench for that match suggested they were trying to keep him fresh for Tuesday night. Unfortunately he came on and picked up a calf strain and could now miss the match.

That would be a huge bonus for United because along with Franck Ribery he is a matchwinner for the German side. In midfield, Mark Van Bommel is an exceptional player who drives the team on, but it's Robben and Ribery who can hurt you.

Robben can play on either flank, either going past people and delivering balls from the left or cutting inside from the right and bending or driving the ball into dangerous areas. We saw in the last round against Fiorentina what a threat he is.

If Robben doesn't make it then all of the pressure will be on Ribery to produce. You need exceptional players to do something out of the ordinary in the final third and while United have Wayne Rooney, Bayern will be looking to Ribery.

The Frenchman is in the shop window with talk of him moving to Manchester United in the summer. It was interesting to see reports of a £40million bid in the Sunday newspapers and the timing of that doesn't surprise me. It will rattle the cage at Bayern Munich and might unsettle the player, but I suspect he is too experienced to let that upset him these days.

Threat

If Robben plays you can expect to see him and Ribery switching flanks and if Gary Neville plays he will have to dig deep into all of his European experience to cope with that threat.

Neville knows he hasn't got the pace he used to have so he will have to rely on his positional play and be fully committed, as he always has been.

Bayern play 4-4-2, but I suspect Sir Alex Ferguson will go with his tried-and-trusted 4-5-1 formation in Munich. In home games against lesser teams they have gone 4-4-2, but I expect a similar team to the one that started against Liverpool last week.

That means Wayne Rooney up front on his own with Ji-Sung Park and Antonio Valencia supporting him. Then I expect Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and possibly Paul Scholes to feature in midfield.

I imagine Ferguson decided to leave Rooney out against Bolton to ensure he's fully fit for this game to play in that lone striker role. Dimitar Berbatov has been playing very well and would now have the confidence to lead the line in Rooney's absence, but he doesn't possess the pace and power that Rooney gives you in a European away leg.

Man United need something to go back to Old Trafford with and they need to keep the score down and give themselves a chance.

The draw has fallen well for them because in the quarter-finals you want to play the second leg at home. That won't be the case in the semis, but facing Lyon or Bordeaux was the easiest available draw.

At this moment I think United are strong enough to get to the Champions League Final... but I can see them losing narrowly in Germany.

THOMMO'S CALL - I think a 2-1 win for Bayern Munich would be an acceptable result for Manchester United fans. I feel Bayern might just tip it on the night but I can see United going through over the two legs.

Comments (53)

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P Bishop (Staines Town fan) says...

Utd choke choke choke, one man team, now rooney is crocked, hope he misses a few games and shows that you are indeed a one man team! Bayen to draw 1-1 away and knock you out, shock final will be Bayen vs Arsenal! man utd luckiest team in the world, if you are to go through it will be 1-0 at old trafford with bayen scoring an own goal! surprise surprise that would be your 11 of the season!

Posted 11:39 31st March 2010

Mark Gasuza (Arsenal fan) says...

I give both legs to Man U because of pace and the team spirit and the other character of fighting back,am not undermining Bayern M as far as i see German teams i dont think they are changed alot of things even the national team leave alone those days in 90's man they were not easy i know its not going to be easy but still Man U remains a force to be reckoned in this one,about the champion in this year's champion league i give it to my team Arsenal

Posted 19:11 30th March 2010

Mubarak Patel (Manchester United fan) says...

Phil thompson, da man whu chats. U are always against man united. i see this every week on soccer saturday. listen up liverpool. and manchester united can't be used in the same sentence. Thats why i put a full stop there. United will hammer bayern with ease. Liverpool hav to many problems so you don't go stick your nose in united matters

Posted 18:37 30th March 2010

John Sutton (Manchester United fan) says...

if we can either contain robben and ribery or robben is injured i dont think ribery would be able to do it on his own. yes they have mario gomez but the form rooneys in is amazing Berbatov's also finding form, scoring and playing really well though i doubt fergie'll start him im hope that scholes, giggs and valencia all start i think we need to go for the away goal asap even if we lose 2-1 well only need a 1-0 win at OT i think 2-1 (to utd) in this game then at OT perhaps 2-1 again. If Arsenal can somehow beat Barcelona then we've most likely won the CL there and then Arsenal would have to hope that messi and xavi/ inesta are injured for the 2nd leg then arsenal have a chance i think as good as bordeaux have proven to be lyon would still beat them man utd vs lyon wont be easy but i cant see lyon winnin inter will beat CSKA then play arsenal dont mind who wins, we've swept them both aside last season even though inter have vastly improved.

Posted 17:54 30th March 2010

David Murphy (Manchester United fan) says...

I think Bayern Munich are in bad form, Manchester United are in great form. I think are record in Europe in the past few years is clearly better than there's, I don't think we'll put the accelarater on yet though, because we'll be takin' it easy for Saturday's crunch clash with Chelsea. I think if we could sneak a few away goals, we'd be happy, but I think we'll run out 2-0 winners anyway. Ribery and Robben are major doubts for the game, so Manchester United have got some good news.

Posted 17:20 30th March 2010

Sean Budu (Manchester United fan) says...

personal,i dont see any way Bayern can hurt Utd.This is the period of the season when Utd are strongest and mentally tough and it will only take another exceptional perfomance like they faced against Barcelona to stop them.

Posted 16:58 30th March 2010

Mohamed Mohamed (Barcelona fan) says...

I can't wait for tonight's game between Manchester United and Bayern Munich i don't think its going to be easy for Man u i really don't, i hope the win coz i would love to face Man u again, but cross you fingers Man u fans and lets hope its going to be a good Match and Man u to win, Prediction Bayern 1 Man u 1 Bizca Barca

Posted 16:18 30th March 2010

Sam Steele (Liverpool fan) says...

I think Bayern will win first game then United will win home tie.

Posted 16:02 30th March 2010

Ollie Marsden (Fulham fan) says...

Unfortunately, I can only see one winner in this game. Bayern dont have the dominance they once did in the German league whilst man u are favourites to win the premier league. The draw is very good for man u. I'm just surprised though that no one has mentioned phillip lahm, for me he did well in the Euro's and he is still young. The valencia v Lahm is going to be a good match-up I think if neville has lahm and ribery attacking him, Bayern might have a glimmer of a chance as they could overwhelm neville and get a couple of goals. It will depend on 2 players that people haven't really mentioned yet I think, demechellis and lahm. If they both have really good games and keep rooney and valencia quiet for both legs then bayern might just sneak it but I do not see that happening

Posted 16:02 30th March 2010

Jason C (Manchester United fan) says...

Agree with Phil Thompson.. Ive just seen Ribery's comments about united being a one man team.. What a cheek.. United were apparently a one man team last season.. Yet we proved everyone wrong.. Rooney didnt play against Bolton and we win 4-0.. Hope United thrash Bayern tonight..

Posted 16:00 30th March 2010

Nicholas Ehiz (Manchester United fan) says...

Wel a meat that has fat can only prove it self in the fire. Battles are won in the baracks.Its victory 4 manuntd 2-0.We are already prepared cos we have Rudboy..

Posted 15:59 30th March 2010

Francis Hutchinson (Manchester United fan) says...

I think i must have been the only Man United fan that wasn't looking past this match when the draw was made- there is a strong argument to suggest that if they overcome Bayern, it will be plain sailing into the final- but Bayern are a good side, and have world class players in Klose, Ribery and Robben. Although the last trip to Germany proved to be in United's favour (3-0 against Wolfsburg), I believe they will be made to work harder to get a result in the Allianz Arena, and as a Man United fan, I would welcome a draw to bring back to Old Trafford. LUHG

Posted 15:48 30th March 2010

Josh Greenaway (Manchester United fan) says...

Could be an iffy one, Bayern are good defensively, Van Bommel will be their key man tonight for me. I reckon 1-1 draw, but if one side is going to scrape the win it'll be united as we have the firepower

Posted 15:42 30th March 2010

Andrew Omondi (Manchester United fan) says...

Trick draw for United here and a mouth watering clash it is. Bayer are obviously the underdogs and therefore have nothing to loose in this game. Like the AC Milan draw, i think United have an edge in this match. 2 - 0 in favor of united.

Posted 15:14 30th March 2010

Ross Harvey (Manchester United fan) says...

I am certainly not counting my chickens, leverkusen lost on away goals when we all thought it was gonna be a United v Madrid final at Hampden. But defensively United are well equipped, great passers and pace in midfield and the worlds on form centre forward. The German league is not the league it was and if Robben is missing then I predict a 3-1 win for United, C'MON THE REDS!

Posted 14:35 30th March 2010

Martin Mckinstry (Manchester United fan) says...

This was a good column on how Bayern Munich play, as well as highlighting there main threats as well as the way Man Utd will play. However, Phil Thompson is a die-hard red (wrong side of red) and he believes a bayern munich side, who struggled past a decent fiorentina team, (who dumped liverpool out, surprise surprise) will beat man utd 2-1 without a 100% fit robben & ribery, mario gomez a doubt and demichellis just coming back from a serious injury as well as a suspended bastian schweinsteiger? I feel it will be a tough physical and tactical match tonight. But after winning away 2 milan, beating liverpool, and thumping bolton 4-0 and with vidic and rio now fit, i feel utd will be to strong for Bayern Munich tonight and will win 2-0 away, and 3-1 at old trafford.

Posted 14:29 30th March 2010

Idris U (Manchester United fan) says...

I don't know, everywhere I look people keep going on about how difficult this will be for Manchester United tonight. I personally can't see it, I think it will be difficult as all away games in Europe are but my prediction which I stand by and have placed money behind is a score draw or Utd win with the night not being as difficult as people making it out to be.. Moments of madness like we had in Milan will happen but we will score and most likely come back with a win. Get In.......

Posted 14:27 30th March 2010

Michael Gaffney (Manchester United fan) says...

We should easily take care of munich tonight. It is always tough against German opposition but United will have to much for them tonight. I think we will win 2-1 with rooney and vidic on the scoresheet

Posted 14:23 30th March 2010

Kin Kin (Manchester United fan) says...

wether Roben & Ribery play or not, mautd must surely excell at germany...they are going to com back to old trafford with 2 goals in their favour and 1 goal to bayern.

Posted 14:00 30th March 2010

Ross Taylor (Manchester United fan) says...

united to walk away with the victory fairly easily, i reckon maybe a 3-1

Posted 13:46 30th March 2010

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