Champions League – Bayern v United: View from Munich

Our German expert believes Manchester United can exploit a weak Bayern Munich defence in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.

What are Bayern’s chances of progressing into the final four?

United have to be the big favourites. Despite Bayern’s 19 consecutive victories at the beginning of the season, they are not the same side now and their performances this month have been far from satisfying. Three defeats (to Fiorentina, Frankfurt and Stuttgart), a draw against Cologne and just two wins (Freiburg, Schalke) have highlighted major problems: goalkeeper Hans-Joerg Butt is not world class, the defence is leaky, Mario Gomez never plays from the start and Miroslav Klose is not in good shape.

Has their Champions League form been the same?

In the Champions League it was nearly the same. It seemed like they were out, but then Bordeaux beat Juve and Bayern were in contention again. Then they beat Juve 4-1 in Turin, that was the turning point.

Will Arjen Robben be a big loss?

Yes, definitely. He scored a lot of important goals, such as those against Fiorentina and Freiburg, and he is by far Bayern’s most influential player. More so than Franck Ribery who has spent too much time on the sidelines this season to make much of an impact. Also, all the talk about Ribery moving to Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester United has distracted him from his game. I think he has already left the club in his mind.

What are Bayern’s weaknesses?

Their defence and goalkeeper. Daniel van Buyten is not good enough for the Champions League, Holger Badstuber is only 19, Martin Demichelis is carrying an injury and playing in a mask and right-back Diego Contento is inexperienced and too young for this stage.

How big a threat is Wayne Rooney considered to be?

A very big one, considering the above weaknesses.

Are there any other United players Bayern fear?

Along with Barcelona, United are the best team in Europe at the moment. They are very well-organised and their quick passing game means Bayern have to fear every single player.

Out of the remaining eight teams in the Champions League, where do United come in terms of preferred opponents?

Just behind Barcelona. It was the second worst draw possible for Bayern.

How are United regarded in Germany at the moment?

Again, United are one of the best teams in Europe. German football fans look up to such a great club.

Is 1999, when United beat Bayern to win the Champions League final, playing on Bayern’s minds?

No. That night in Barcelona is too long gone now. Bayern have met United since – at the same stage of the Champions League in 2001. They beat them then and went on to win the tournament.

Thomas Janz is deputy editor of Eurosport’s German website based in Munich.


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