Founded in 1904, the tablet team are no strangers to United fans; who could forget that Dimitar Berbatov team which prevented the reds from progressing to the Champions League final in 2002. That particular season for ‘die Werkself’ was coined as ‘ Treble Horror’, due to their loss in that final to Real, as well as losing their version of the FA Cup and missing out on the league.
They have enjoyed some high profile managers since those heady Klaus Toppmöller days, including Rudi Völler and Jupp Heynckes but they are now led by former Scouser Sami Hyypiä, who was made coach after ending his playing days with the side.
There were many departures at the BayArena this summer with the most notable including Scherling to Chelsea and Carvajal back to Real Madrid, but reinforcements in the likes of South Korea international Heung-Min Son, who apparently turned down United to join Leverkusen this summer (really?) and Emir Spahic have looked to maintain the team’s progress along with the likes of current stars Lars Bender, Sidney Sam and Stefan Kießling.
Hyypiä likes the counter attack and his team often lines up in a 4-3-3 of Bender, Castro and Reinartz in the middle 3, the latter tending to sit in the centre as his two colleagues flank him, whilst the front trio of Son, Sam and Kießling offer tremendous pace, movement and skill.
They will allow United possession of the ball as it would be hard to imagine them taking the game to United, especially at Old Trafford. In their last match against Wolfsburg the front 3 stretched across the line but at Old Trafford they will be likely to stay compact. It may be the 4-3-3 turns into a typical 4-5-1 and United will need to look at exploiting the space behind the likes of Son and Sam and to the sides of Reinartz. However, when defending United will need to be on their guard as the three ‘front men’ will offer great points of reference for the Bayer counter.
The graphic below shows their last game against Wolfsburg and how compact the play was kept. United musn’t allow this to happen particularly in the return leg.
Kießling is likely to be the main focal point on any formation and it’s important that United don’t get sucked in to concentrate on that middle zone as Sam and Son like to attack diagonally and behind; as ever Evra beware!
Let the games begin.