Bayern Munich v Manchester United – tactical preview
On paper, United should be set up perfectly to deal with this one. No side in Europe rely on their wide players as much as Bayern do, no side in Europe defend from the wings as effectively as United do.
As discussed in ZM’s analysis of Bayern’s fortunate win over Fiorentina in the previous round, the best way to stop Bayern is by strictly doubling-up on Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. United have done well this season when playing a 4-3-3 against the big sides, with the wide players in the team to shut down the opposition full-backs. Today, a similarly strict defensive job will be required from them – although it might be 20 yards deeper than usual, with Ribery and Robben their attention, rather than the full-backs.
Fiorentina’s doubling up against the wingers worked well, but left themselves exposed in the centre of the pitch, where first Mark van Bommel and then Arjen Robben smashed in long-range efforts. But whereas Fiorentina’s shape was a vague 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1, United’s use of three central midfield players (compared to two for Fiorentina) means they should avoid the same thing happening.
Of course, this is assuming Ribery and Robben are fit – they might well both miss out, and Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended, meaning Bayern’s entire creative spark could be unavailable.
Ferguson will certainly go 4-3-3, but it will be interesting to see which players he uses in wide positions – against Milan both home and away Park was fielded in the centre, but his stamina might be better suited to the wing in this game. He and Valencia would be the best players defensively, but Nani is in good form and might cause Lahm and Bastuber more problems with the ball.
The role of Darren Fletcher will also be interesting – his energy might be wasted in a deep midfield role, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him either higher up the pitch pressuring van Bommel and Tymoschuk, or deployed wide to assist his full-back.
Daniel van Buyten and Martin Dimichelis will be dreading facing Wayne Rooney – they’re both tall, strong defenders, but prone to pace and movement as Stevan Jovetic showed in the last round, and both always have a mistake in them. As long as United get support to Rooney, they will surely score an away goal.
It’s difficult to predict teams with Bayern’s injury doubts, but one suspects that one of the wingers, probably Arjen Robben, will make the side.
Bayern Munich (4-4-1-1): Butt; Lahm, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Badstuber; Robben, Van Bommel, Tymoschuk, Pranjic; Muller; Olic.
Manchester United (4-5-1): van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Park; Rooney.Bayern Munich v Manchester United – tactical preview