Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Champions League - Bayern Munich v Manchester United: Key battles

We take a look at the key battles ahead of the Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash between Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Franck Ribery v Gary Neville

With Arjen Robben set to miss out, the German side will look to Ribery to provide a threat from wide areas. While the Frenchman has been the subject of much speculation as to where he will be playing next season, for the meantime he is very much Bayern's star man, and they need a star performance from him. Veteran defender Neville's legs are ageing and while he may pose a threat going forward with his crosses, he could be seriously tested by Ribery's pace and trickery at the other end of the pitch.

Holger Badstuber v Wayne Rooney

Forget about the best player in the world debate for a moment, Rooney doesn't need that particular label to give Badstuber the runaround at the Allianz Arena. The Germany U21 international, a product of Bayern's youth system, looked shaky in the defeat to Stuttgart at the weekend and lacks the experience to contain a player in Rooney's current form. Indeed, Rooney will be hoping Bayern coach Louis van Gaal keeps Badstuber in his starting line-up.

Ivica Olic v Nemanja Vidic

Olic may be dropped for the visit of United after criticising Van Gaal, but the experienced coach knows the Croat striker probably represents his side's best chance of unsettling United's centre-backs. Strong, powerful and deceptively quick, Olic's workrate is second to none and Vidic, who has committed several high profile errors this season, will have his hands full.

Philipp Lahm v Nani

Nani has been resurgent of late but his influence will be checked by Germany international Lahm, who was one of few Bayern players to emerge with credit from last weekend's defeat. Lahm may only be 26 but he is vastly experienced and considering he is equally adept at going forward as defending, Nani will have to be diligent and willing to track back if he is not to be found out on Tuesday.

Marc van Bommel v Darren Fletcher

With Nani and Antonio Valencia likely to fill the wide positions, Fletcher is set to move back inside after a couple of brilliant performances on the flanks against Milan. Then, his influence on the result was enormous, as it can be in Germany if he can stamp his authority on the midfield. But vying for control of the middle of the park will be combative Bayern skipper Van Bommel, who has never been averse to sticking the boot in for his team and could prove to be a real thorn in United's side.


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