A look ahead to two intriguing Champions League group stage fixtures taking place tonight, as Manchester United hope for a continuation of their memorable night in Paris when entertaining last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig. By contrast, Leipzig’s Bundesliga counterparts Borussia Dortmund target a defiant response after their MD1 defeat with a positive result against Zenit.
Manchester United vs RB Leipzig: big test in store for both sides
Kick-off: 8pm bst
Having kept their first Premier League clean sheet of 2020-21 against Chelsea over the weekend, Manchester United return to Champions League action with another tough test in store.
Eight days after their 2-1 win away at last season’s UCL finalists PSG, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men host Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.
In-form and managed by one of the world’s best coaches in Julian Nagelsmann, Wednesday’s visitors are riding a seven-match unbeaten streak. Can they extend that encouraging run against an unpredictable United side here?
United’s goalless draw with Chelsea on Saturday evening was the Blues’ third successive draw, having been held by Southampton and Sevilla during a busy week.
As for the Red Devils, they’re quietly hoping they’ve turned a corner after their shocking 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham on October 4.
However, their home woes continued – winless in their last five home league matches, dating back to a 5-2 win over relegated Bournemouth.
It doesn’t help that their attacking qualities seem centred around Bruno Fernandes. He was, again, their best player against Frank Lampard’s side and questions remain elsewhere too.
£35m signing Donny van de Beek was an unused substitute, while Paul Pogba and deadline day signing Edinson Cavani are seemingly on the fringes.
It’ll be interesting to see how Solskjaer sets his side up here, against a Leipzig side who don’t pose the same attacking threats PSG do – but can easily punish teams. Just ask Tottenham.
Marcel Sabitzer scored a well-taken brace and Dayot Upamecano shone in their final game pre-lockdown, to eliminate Jose Mourinho’s men from Champions League contention on March 10.
Nordi Mukiele (hamstring) and Konrad Laimer (knee) are among the notable absentees for the visitors, but count them out at your peril.
final thoughts and possible line-ups
United will fancy their chances after a disciplined win in Paris last week.
However, the dynamic is much different: they’re favourites here and hosting an in-form Leipzig side who will relish an opportunity to expose Solskjaer’s frailties here.
Man Utd: de Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, McTominay, Fernandes; van de Beek, Martial, Rashford.
Leipzig: Gulacsi; Henrichs, Orban, Upamecano, Konate; Kampl, Forsberg, Sabitzer; Angelino, Sorloth, Nkunku.
Borussia Dortmund vs Zenit: A must-win clash for BVB
After cruising to a 3-0 Revierderby victory over Schalke at the weekend, Lucien Favre’s Dortmund target their first Champions League points of the new campaign. They host Russian champions Zenit, after both lost opening Group F games last week in contrasting circumstances.
Charles de Ketelaere scored a stoppage-time winner as Club Brugge stung Zenit, while Lazio were ruthlessly clinical against an injury-stricken Dortmund side in the group’s other clash. Will either side banish their defeat, to earn a welcome result?
Lazio had less possession (35%), far less completed passes and dribbles but captain Ciro Immobile came back to haunt his former side on MD1 last Tuesday.
He scored one and created another in a whirlwind affair which could’ve gone either way, but Simone Inzaghi’s men snapped a three-match winless run in style at the Stadio Olimpico.
BVB were without Emre Can (suspension), Manuel Akanji and Nico Schulz (both injured) among others, which saw a makeshift starting eleven with Thomas Delaney in a three-man backline.
Marwin Hitz ended his brief stint as first-choice goalkeeper with an own goal as Roman Burki returned from injury days later. Dortmund will want to deliver a statement display here. Zenit too, find themselves in a similar boat.
Brugge were fearless and composed under pressure to stun them in St. Petersburg last week, with de Ketelaere applying the finishing touch to a well-worked team move in stoppage-time.
It was a cruel end to a game they could’ve stolen after Dejan Lovren’s power strike crashed in off goalkeeper Ethan Horvath to equalise.
Sardar Azmoun (three key passes, two big chances created) was dangerous, while they missed Malcom (muscle) and Douglas Santos through suspension. How will they respond?
final thoughts and possible line-ups
Dortmund were bested by a clinical Lazio but Zenit don’t have as much attacking quality, especially without Malcom.
It won’t be easy for Favre’s men, but with a motivated Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland combining in the final third, they should produce an improved display against a side who find themselves in similiar circumstances – in need of a victory.
Dortmund: Burki; Guerreiro, Hummels, Akanji, Meunier; Delaney, Dahoud, Brandt; Reus, Haaland, Sancho.
Zenit: Kerzhakov; Krugovoy, Rakitskiy, Lovren, Santos; Barrios, Ozdoev, Kuzyaev; Driussi, Dzyuba, Azmoun.
Pictures’ source: Icon Sport via Getty Images
REST OF wednesday’S UCL FIXTURES (8PM bst, UNLESS STATED)
5.55pm KO: Krasnodar vs Chelsea
Sevilla vs Stade Rennais
Club Brugge vs Lazio
Ferencvaros vs Dynamo Kyiv
Juventus vs Barcelona
5:55pm – Basaksehir vs PSG