Who: RB Leipzig vs Manchester United
When: Tuesday, December 8th @ 3:00pm ET
Line: RB Leipzig +125 | Draw +310| Man U +188
A do-or-die situation has crept up on Manchester United ahead of their final Champions League group stages game this season. Having been unable to guarantee qualification against PSG, they now travel to a dangerous RB Leipzig side hell-bent on getting the win which books their place in the knockout rounds.
Leipzig has been unstoppable at home this season, not losing a single game in the Bundesliga or UCL. United, on the other hand, have been on fire away from home in the Premier League – having won their last 5 consecutive away games. A fiery final battle is ready to ensue to close out the thrilling Group H and United need to bring out their absolute best to even scratch out a point, let alone get the win over the German giants.
RB Leipzig Likely XI
Gulacsi, Mukiele, Konate, Orban, Halstenberg, Kampl, Haidara, Sabitzer, Olmo, Nkunku, Poulsen
Leipzig has quite a few injury troubles, with defenders Lukas Klostermann, Benjamin Henrichs & key midfielder Konrad Laimer still on the treatment table. Forwards Hee-chan Hwang & Fabrice Hartmann are also expected to miss the game, while star defender Dayot Upamecano is suspended for the fixture.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, Matic, McTominay, Pogba, Bruno, Rashford, Greenwood
United lost both forwards Anthony Martial & Edinson Cavani to injuries against West Ham & they’re ruled out, but Luke Shaw will be in the squad after recovering from his injury. Fred is suspended after his red card vs PSG.
RB Leipzig vs Manchester United Preview
Man United have shown a real love for winning things very late as they’ve done multiple times this season. But this is the biggest risk they’ve taken so far this season & leaving qualification into the CL knockout rounds till the very last game could turn out to be a big mistake.
The equations are simple. Get a point & qualify into the Round of 16. If United win the game and PSG drop points to Istanbul Basaksehir (unlikely to happen), they would win their group! With RBL also desperate to win, this game should be a thrilling, end-to-end encounter.
Things, however, won’t be as easy as it was in their 5-0 romping of the Bundesliga giants in the reverse fixture. They might be without Upemecano, but Leipzig won’t make similar silly mistakes & be much stronger defensively to keep them quiet. But the German side’s attacking style will give them chances, especially on the counter-attack.
While a draw can suit United, RBL needs a win to progress into the next stages. They will be attacking from the get-go and aim to take an unassailable lead as soon as possible. The Bundesliga side has enough quality to produce an attacking masterclass on any day.
Christopher N’Kunku can create brilliant chances out of nothing, Youssef Poulsen’s a clinical no.9, Marcel Sabitzer being the emphatic enforcer capable of scoring bangers from midfield & Dani Olmo the unpredictable spark in their frontline. Angelino & Nordi Mukiele are also menacing wing-backs capable of creating good stuff from the wide areas.
The Red Devils must defend as if their lives depend on it to frustrate the hosts. Harry Maguire is enjoying an impressive run of form alongside Victor Lindelof & the duo will be key to nullify their attacking threat.
Nemanja Matic should also feature to protect the backline & needs to maintain strict shape and fill any gaps in the backline. Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Alex Telles must maintain utmost concentration to deal against Leipzig’s dangerous attacks down the wings. If they’re defensively strong enough, United will receive plenty of chances on the break.
Paul Pogba & Bruno Fernandes are key parts for orchestrating the counter-attacks & getting the ball up the field as fast as possible. Marcus Rashford was a nightmare in the reverse fixture, scoring a hattrick and he’ll shoulder huge responsibility with Cavani & Martial ruled out.
Rashford needs to use his brilliant dribbling ability to carry the ball into the box as well as get behind defenders to find himself through on an open goal. He must improve his finishing, be more clinical & make better passes in the final third to feed Mason Greenwood.
The 19-year-old also tormented Leipzig last time around & coming off a great display against West Ham, he’ll look to continue his goal-scoring heroics & play more centrally on Tuesday. The midfield battle will also play a key role. Pogba, Bruno & Scott McTominay must remain energetic to go toe-to-toe with Leipzig’s stars, close down their opportunities & win back possession at regular intervals.
United can’t rely on their tendency to come back from a goal or two down on Tuesday, because their luck can run out & that risk could eventually send them to the Europa League. As long as they don’t make silly defensive errors, fight together as a unit and finish off their counter-attacks, they should get the job done in Leipzig.
The game should be an action-packed one filled with drama & intensity with both so desperate to attain qualification into the next rounds. While it could go either way, I predict a thrilling 2-2 draw to allow United to just scrape their way into the Round of 16.