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Tuesday 23 September 2014

10 reasons why United can win their Champions League quarter-final with Bayern

Nik Brumsack

Published 09/04/2014 | 08:06

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Pep Guardiola head coach of Bayern Muenchen shakes hands with David Moyes manager of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Manchester United and FC Bayern Muenchen at Old Trafford on April 1, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Only one of these men can progress to the semis tonight

Manchester United go into Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second-leg tie against Bayern Munich as considerable underdogs.

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Pep Guardiola's side have been in supreme form for the vast majority of this season - they secured the Bundesliga title in March, are in the German Cup final and have progressed seamlessly to the last eight in Europe too.

But, after going 19 games unbeaten in all competitions, Bayern were beaten in Augsburg at the weekend - their first loss in 53 Bundesliga games. United, meanwhile, built on the spirited 1-1 draw when the sides met at Old Trafford last Tuesday with a convincing 4-0 victory at St James' Park on Saturday.

So is it right that United are unfancied to progress?

Here are 10 reasons why David Moyes' men can upset the Champions League holders and put their name in the hat for when the semi-final draw is made on Friday.

1. United impressed in the first leg

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Moyes' men produced an impressive performance at Old Trafford last Tuesday. They were disciplined, determined and worried Bayern on the counter. Danny Welbeck caused the Munich backline problems with his pace - emphasised by the way he shrugged Jerome Boateng off the ball when racing through on goal in the first half. If United can reproduce a similar display, they could just nick it.

2. Bayern haven't won in three games

Guardiola's team dropped just four points en route to retaining the Bundesliga with seven games still to play. But since ensuring the title with victory against Hertha BSC, Bayern have not won. They let a two-goal lead slip in the 3-3 draw against Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena and, after drawing at Old Trafford, were then beaten at Augsburg in their next league game.

3. United are good on the road

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No Premier League team has a better away record than United this season. In fact, 33 of their 57 Premier League points have come away from Old Trafford, and they looked impressive throughout at Newcastle on Saturday. In addition, Moyes' side have only lost once on the road in Europe during the 2013/14 season.

4. English teams do well at the Allianz Arena

Bayern have not won at home against English opposition since September 2011. Since then, the German champions have failed to beat a Premier League team on home soil in four attempts, which has included two games against Arsenal, Manchester City earlier this season and the final itself in 2012 when Chelsea won on penalties. The most recent game was the one against City, who came from two goals down to win 3-2.

5. Bayern are missing key midfielders

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Guardiola's options in the middle of the park have been depleted somewhat, with Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger both suspended for Wednesday night's game. Thiago Alcantara is out too, through a knee ligament injury, while playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri tore a muscle in his right thigh at the weekend.

6. United have a good record against German teams

The Red Devils have lost only one of their last 10 matches against German opposition - though that did come against Bayern, in March 2010. They have won five of their last six against teams from Germany and lost only twice in eight games on German soil since 1997.

7. United almost always score against German opponents

United have scored in each of their last 15 matches against German teams - a run which goes back to March 2002. They have scored 35 goals in that period and, although they have never beaten Bayern in Munich, they have scored on their last four trips to Bavaria. Due to Bayern's away goal, United must keep that run going if they are to progress.

8. No team has kept more clean sheets in the Champions League

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United have only conceded in four of their nine European games so far this season, and they kept a clean sheet the last time they visited Germany - in the 5-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen. In comparison, Bayern have had four shutouts, though they have prevented the opposition from scoring only once in their last five Champions League games.

9. Bayern are short of goalkeepers

Manuel Neuer is fit to play but deputies Tom Starke and Lucas Raeder are both injured. Inexperienced stopper Leopold Zingerle, the 19-year-old backup goalkeeper at Bayern Munich II, is likely to take his place on the bench on Wednesday night. Zingerle has not made a senior appearance for Guardiola's team but will be thrust into a Champions League quarter-final should the brilliant Neuer pick up an injury or a red card.

10. Football, bloody hell

Yes, it was 15 years ago now but we all still remember what happened at Nou Camp on the night of Wednesday, May 26, 1999. Bayern led this Champions League final until second-half injury time, when Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struck in quick succession to send the trophy to Manchester and write one of the greatest chapters in the club's history.

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