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Bayer Leverkusen v Manchester United: Big-match Champions League briefing

FOOTBALL By -The Metro | November 27th 2013
Wayne Rooney trains with Manchester United yesterday (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester United will qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League if they beat Bayer Leverkusen, who are just one point behind them in Group A, tonight in Germany. Here’s the lowdown.

Key battle

Wayne Rooney v Lars Bender

Rooney’s two goals against the Bundesliga club at Old Trafford took his tally in Europe to 29 – more than any other British striker in the Champions League.

The England striker raises his game in big matches and with first place in Group A still up for grabs this is as big as they get.

If Robin van Persie is fit to face the side second in the German league, Rooney may be deployed in a deeper role where he will be in combat with Bender, who is a rising star in his homeland.

The 24-year-old was in the Germany side which beat England 1-0 at Wembley last week. He boasts an impressive all-round game, constantly retaining possession, keeping the ball moving and posing a threat with accurate passes while being able to break up the opposition’s play.

Bayer by the numbers

8 Champions’ League group matches since Leverkusen lost at home in the BayArena.

10 Wins in their first 13 Bundesliga outings this season for Bayer

0 Clean sheets for Leverkusen in five Champions League meetings with United

Injury woes mounting

Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia will be without defender Roberto Hilbert, who has a knee injury, while midfielder Stefan Reinartz will be missing with a heel problem and forward Sidney Sam has a thigh injury.

United they stand

The Red Devils have won their last three Champions League matches against Bayer, although they were knocked out on away goals by the Germans in the 2001-02 semi-finals.

Men in the middle?

David Moyes will have to tinker with his midfield options as Michael Carrick is injured and Marouane Fellaini is suspended for the trip to Germany. A bigger concern is that Robin van Persie is a doubt with the toe and groin issues which forced him to miss Sunday’s 2-2 at Cardiff. But Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones could both boost United by returning from injury.

Probable teams

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Donati, Wollscheid, Toprak, Can, Hegeler, Bender, Rolfes, Castro, Son, Kiessling

Manchester United: De Gea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley, Kagawa, Rooney, Welbeck, Van Persie, Hernandez.

November 27 Champions League matches

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Man Utd today, 10:45 PM at BayArena
Man City v Viktoria Plzen 19:45 today, 10:45 PM at City Of Manchester
Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Sociedad today, 10:45 PM AT Donbass Arena
Juventus v FC Copenhagen today, 10:45 PM Juventus Arena
Real Madrid v Galatasaray today, 10:45 PM Santiago Bernabéu
Paris Saint Germain v Olympiakos  today, 10:45 PM
RSC Anderlecht v Benfica today, 10:45 PM at Constant Vanden Stock
CSKA Moscow v Bayern Munich today, 8:00 PM at Arena Khimki

Adapted from The Metro


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