Manchester United travel to Germany knowing that a victory against opposition Bayer Leverkusen will guarantee qualification to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
David Moyes’ side are unbeaten in Europe this season but have failed to win away from home in the competition so far with two tepid draws against Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad, which leaves Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar in touching distance in Group A should United slip up on Wednesday.
United currently sit a point ahead of Leverkusen and three in front of third placed Shakhtar but qualification is not seen as something of a formality just yet, with United tentative on the road in Europe under David Moyes. Leverkusen, managed by former Liverpool defender Sami Hyppia, are also in impressive form going in to the fixture.
After United were victorious against the German outfit in the opening game of the group, Hyppia’s men have taken seven points from their last three in Europe and have won their last eight Champions League group games at the BayArena.
United’s task is complicated somewhat with a number of first team players unavailable for selection. Maroaune Fellaini is suspended following his dismissal against Real Sociedad last time out while Michael Carrick is still recovering from an Achilles problem. Robin van Persie, so often United’s talisman also missed training this morning and is unlikely to feature.
Wayne Rooney is the highest scoring Englishman in Champions League history with 29 goals and a man in a rich vein of form this campaign. He could tip the balance in Manchester United’s favour and there are great odds of 6-1 for Rooney to score any time with a United win.
Danny Welbeck made a surprise return to action against Cardiff on Sunday while Phil Jones, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael all trained with the first team and may push for selection.
For Leverkusen, Sidney Sam’s absence will be a big blow with the German international scoring a remarkable 11 goals from out wide so far this season. Hyppia is also likely to be without defender Robert Hilbert and midfielder Stefan Rienhartz but Stefan Kiessling, match-winner for Leverkusen at the weekend, should lead the line and the big 29-year-old has already found the net 12 times this campaign.
The two sides met on Match Day One of the competition and United took the spoils with an exciting 4-2 early season victory. A similar outcome on Wednesday would be the perfect tonic for David Moyes who suffered anguish at the weekend with Cardiff City scoring a last-minute equaliser to snatch a deserved 2-2 draw.
United are without an away win in their last four Champions League group games, which is their worst run since 2005, but have only conceded eight goals in their last 15 away matches in Europe. Leverkusen have never beaten United in five meetings but have never kept a clean sheet either.
Prediction: Leverkusen 0-1 Manchester United