Comeback kings Man Utd brace for Leipzig CL decider
LONDON: Manchester United will travel to RB Leipzig for Tuesday’s Champions League match confident they can reach the knockout stages but knowing they have made life unnecessarily hard for themselves.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team looked certain to ease out of the group phase after an impressive win at Paris Saint-Germain followed by a 5-0 hammering of RB Leipzig at home.
But a shock defeat away to Istanbul Basaksehir threw Group H wide open and last week’s home reverse against PSG leaves the French champions, United and Leipzig locked together on nine points.
United need just a draw at the home of the German team, who are third in the Bundesliga. That would take them through on the basis of a superior head-to-head record.
The three-time European champions can take heart from their striking away form this season, with the exception of their ill-fated trip to Turkey.
They have won all five of their Premier League away games, taking their total of consecutive league wins on the road to a club-record nine.
But United, desperate to re-establish themselves among the European elite, have also made a habit of getting themselves into difficulty — they have trailed in every away game in the top-flight this season.
Saturday’s match at West Ham was no different. Solskjaer’s men were 1-0 down at half-time and could have been further behind before a stirring second-half comeback.
Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford all scored in a 3-1 win at the London Stadium that took the team, at least temporarily, into the top four of the Premier League.
Meanwhile RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann says his confident side can seize their chance in Tuesday’s key Champions League match at home to Manchester United with only the victors assured of a last 16 berth.
“I’m not sure for whom the situation in the group is psychologically worse,” said Nagelsmann.
“Manchester were first in the group for a long time, now they can be eliminated with one game.
“We have fought our way back and can still make it through on our own terms.”
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2020