Not many were tipping Manchester United to have the ability to subdue European champions Bayern Munich last night at Old Trafford, but David Moyes’ charges put up an admirable performance in a 1-1 draw.
Although the tie still hangs in the balance and the Bavarians will still be favourites to progress, the English side’s performance was substantially better than recent home humblings in the Premier League by Manchester City and Liverpool.
It is still all to do for United, but here are five reasons that the Premier League side should be happy after the first leg.
The most disconcerting thing about the afore-mentioned domestic drubbings was the lack of belief by the United players and the seeming acceptance of being second best.
Although taking on clearly superior opposition last night, United’s will to win, determination and work ethic could not be faulted and needs to be applauded.
With the German media bullish ahead of the clash and the Bayern players exuding an air of invincibility, the draw brings the tie back down to an even playing field.
Although the visitors had the bulk of possession in England, Bayern did not create an over-abundance of scoring chances.
United’s collective defensive spirit shone through, with Moyes’ men difficult to break down and largely frustrating their opponents.
A backs-against-the-wall performance may well be needed at the Allianz Arena next week, with the omens that United can shutout the German powerhouses there for all to see after the first 90 minutes.
Bastian Schweinsteiger netted the equalising goal and proved as uncompromising as ever last night, but the Germany international will be unavailable next week after being sent off late in the piece.
With Thiago Alcântara also unavailable ahead of next week’s clash in Bavaria, Guardiola has been robbed of two influential midfielders.
Welbeck proves a threat on the counter attack
Danny Welbeck will look back on his first-half miss when through on goal with remorse, with no doubt that the England international attacker should have done much better with the opportunity.
That said, the United forward looked lively all game and put in an industrious display that troubled the Bayern rearguard.
With the English side likely to have to hit Guardiola’s men on the counter-attack next week, Welbeck’s successful outing against Bayern and pace will play a considerable role in United getting the necessary goal(s) at the Allianz Arena.
They are still in contention
United are still well and truly in the tie and they must be respected for the fact. This Bayern team beat Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate last term and has thoroughly outplayed allcomers in recent times.
The English side is still underdogs in the quest for progression to the semi-finals but they will still remember their last-ditch triumph over the Germans in the 1999 competition final when all appeared lost.
The fact that Bayern by no means blitzed United in the first leg like they have done to other sides will be a source of encouragement, with the faint chance of a major upset still on the cards.