But Manchester United still have a lot of great players. And when they have nothing to lose, they can be psychologically much freer.
Yes, Bayern will be favourites, which is never easy for United to accept. It may be the only time of the season when all the fans fully will support United, because it has been quite a difficult season for them.
Bayern have more than a 60% chance of qualifying. But no, it won’t be that easy.
To get through, United will need a minor miracle, particularly with Robin van Persie injured. But only a minor miracle is needed – let’s not forget that 80% of the players in this team have already won the Champions League, or have reached the final! They didn’t become bad overnight.
But they are not 100% confident in themselves right now. Nowadays, as soon as a big club has more than two bad results in a row, they encounter huge pressure. And the repercussions on teams can become major quickly.
Maybe United can free themselves against Bayern, who will certainly control possession; United will try to take advantage of their physical commitment and will need the individual qualities of their forwards to make a difference.
Also, bear in mind that Bayern have already won the Bundesliga. It can handicap them, as focus is a habit. And as soon as you start being a little less focused, you get punished.
This level of football requires total commitment. Players need to be 100% focused all the time. I think it can be a drawback for Bayern.
I also think Bayern are slightly weaker than last year – even though they have dominated the Bundesliga, I believe their domestic competition has been weaker this time round, mostly because Dortmund had a bad spell.
We played Bayern over two legs and only lost because we were down to 10 men for one match. While they have a great system and match-winners like Arjen Robben, I don’t think they are as dominant in controlling the big matches as Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Maybe there are some possible vulnerabilities in defence, because the Bayern exists on the front foot. Maybe they could be vulnerable to counter attacks or quick balls over the top, because they’re always on the offensive and could get caught out.
United have a chance with strong physical play in midfield, and quick counter attacks with vertical runs from deep. That should be their gameplan.
But Bayern’s weaknesses are only weaknesses relative to their strengths; they are strong in every department.
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