Having overcome Olympiakos in dramatic circumstances at Old Trafford, David Moyes’ Manchester United were rewarded (or should it read punished?) with a quarter final against Pep Guardiola’s seemingly invincible Bayern Munich.
Twenty five victories in twenty seven Bundesliga fixtures so far, Bayern have gone fifty two league matches without defeat. The Germans were crowned domestic champions once again on Wednesday with a record seven matches to spare.
With the Club World Championship and Super Cup also secured, Guardiola’s side are on course for an incredible haul of five trophies this season.
With such an imperious record and reputation, it may seem curious to suggest that Moyes and United were dealt anything other than the worst possible draw. Guardiola’s Munich are looking ominously capable of becoming the first side to retain the Champions League trophy.
However, United wouldn’t be considered the favourites in match-ups with any of the other quarter finalists. Spanish heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid would have relished a draw against the faded Red Devils.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have impressed so far and convincingly eliminated AC Milan in the previous round. Paris Saint-Germain may be relative newcomers to this stage of the competition but led by enigmatic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their expensively assembled squad would still likely prove too much for United to handle.
Bearing all this in mind, Moyes and United may have actually got the best possible draw in facing the much-fancied Germans.
With Moyes enduring an aerial protest when his side hosts Aston Villa, the draw against Bayern is the best possible scenario for a manager that has likely taken his side as far as he possibly can in the competition this season. Rather than adding to the significant pressure already on the “Chosen One”, the match-up against Munich is almost accepted by most to be a step too far for this current United side.
The expectation to progress has deflated massively amongst the club’s supporters who realistically acknowledge the scale of the task. Recent home humiliations to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City emphasises just how much work is required to return United to the summit of English football.
Remarkably, for the manager of a club like Manchester United, Moyes can effectively have a free swing in his match-up with Guardiola’s Bayern. Even the most ardent set of United fans are expecting nothing more than elimination against the imperious Germans.
Obviously a pair of competitive performances is the minimum requirement but nearly everyone in football recognises the gulf that currently exists between the two sides.
With United’s domestic form showing no immediate signs of improvement, success in Europe, no matter how unlikely, was viewed as the only way a disastrous campaign could at least be partially salvaged. Likely buoyed by the dramatic events of their second leg triumph against the Greeks, Moyes talked up his side’s chances of lifting the trophy in May. In a post-match press conference, the Scot stated “I suppose we’ll be the underdogs in the draw, but I genuinely believe this club of is capable of doing it.”
Since the draw, Moyes has spoken confidently about the tie. The Scot said: “I’ve got a few things that I’ve seen that I would try to work on and capitalise on.”
Comments such as these will likely be subjected to much derision by football fans, but it epitomises the correct approach. Arsenal’s resistance in the Allianz Arena and Manchester City’s victory, albeit in a dead rubber fixture, suggests there could be weaknesses behind the aura of invincibility.
Nevertheless, it is a tie that very few expect the Red Devils to emerge triumphant from.
At the end of the day, United were almost certainly going to have to overcome Bayern if they were going to secure an unlikely triumph in Europe. By drawing the German giants at the quarter final stage, the weight of expectation has dissipated and Moyes’ side can approach these fixtures with the mindset of genuine underdogs.
Almost any other match-up would have added even further to the mounting pressure.
[ffccomp link=”https://www.footballfancast.com/football-blogs/win-tickets-to-everton-vs-manchester-united-a-copy-of-fifa-14″ oneliner=”For your chance to WIN two tickets to Everton vs Manchester United on Sunday April 20 AND a copy of FIFA14, simply comment below with your score prediction for the game…“step=”PREDICT THE SCORE
BELOW” terms=”http://everton-manchester-united-tickets.pen.io” topics=”premier league, manchester united, everton, football, soccer”]