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FootballSport

United’s cause not so hopeless after all

Wayne Rooney, who says United can dump holders Bayern out, takes part in training on Tuesday before flying to Germany

By Brian Homewood and Karolos Grohmann

Bayern Munich’s longest winless run for three years and poor recent home record against English opposition have suddenly made Manchester United’s task look a lot less daunting than it was when the draw was made.

Bayern will also be without three key midfielders, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg, evenly poised after last week’s 1-1 draw.

The Bavarians have lost their air of invincibility since clinching the Bundesliga title against Hertha Berlin on March 25 and have not won since with two draws and a defeat in all competitions in their last three games.

It is the first time since March 2011 that Bayern have endured a three-match winless run and, even though they have already sewn up the Bundesliga, it is a disconcerting statistic for a side which has become used to chalking up wins with monotonous regularity.

Another worry for Bayern is their failure to win any of their last four matches against English opposition at the Allianz Arena.
The run started with the 2012 Champions League final against Chelsea, who won on penalties after a 1-1 draw. That was followed by defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City and, most recently, a draw against Arsenal in the previous Champions League round last month.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s tendency for South American-style forays out of his penalty creates an additional risk for last season’s treble winners, who are aiming for their third successive Champions League final.

United’s own form, with four goals in each of their last two Premiership wins, is another encouraging sign for manager David Moyes.
Bayern have Schweinsteiger suspended following his first leg sending-off along with Javier Martinez while a third key midfielder, Thiago Alcantara, is out injured.
Those absentees could be a worry even for a team with as much strength in depth as Bayern.

“We’ve got to play to win, we’ll end up losing if we play for a goalless draw,” said Bayern’s Brazilian defender Dante.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said he also expected United to play on the break.
“They’ll be looking to hit us on the break and at set plays,” he said. “We’re in a final on Wednesday. It’s a matter of life and death.
“I think United will be again waiting for us at the back. They will be waiting deep, deep in their own half,” the Spaniard told reporters yesterday.
“English teams defend and then wait for the quick break. David Moyes also has eight, nine players at the back. They are waiting for mistakes, set pieces and breaks.
“That is why we have to be disciplined. We are playing at home and that is important and we know exactly what to do to attack well.”

Guardiola said he was convinced United forward Wayne Rooney would be on the pitch despite a toe injury that has cast doubt over his participation.
“He will play, 100 per cent,” said Guardiola.
“Great players always play the great games and I bet a beer that he will play.”

The England forward is United’s main fitness concern ahead of the potentially season-defining clash at the Allianz Arena after missing Saturday’s win at Newcastle with a foot injury, but he trained with his team-mates on Tuesday morning.

Rooney was involved as the United squad underwent a light workout in a session partly open to media at their Aon Training Complex before flying out to Germany.
For Rooney, confidence that United can not only triumph but go on to win the competition, is still high.

The England forward told UEFA.com: “Of course I believe we can win it.
“Everyone has their favourites every year – the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich – but it does not always happen.
“When Chelsea won it they nearly went out of the competition three times.

“We believe we can go through. We have good enough players.
“It will be tough because in my opinion Bayern and Barcelona are the two best teams left in the competition, so we have to be at our best.
“We are ready. It’s an exciting game for us all – the players and the fans – and it’s a massive game to be involved in.”

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