Manchester United v RB Leipzig: Slow burner will catch fire late on

Both Manchester United and RB Leipzig won on Matchday 1, and Kevin Hatchard believes both will take a while before truly going for the jugular...

Manchester United v RB Leipzig
Wednesday 27 October, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 2

United still a puzzle for Solskjaer to solve

It's not all been smooth sailing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United boss, not least because he has failed to find consistency since taking the reins. The Norwegian deserves immense credit for his tactics in the win at the Parc des Princes which kicked off the group stage - a three-man backline frustrated PSG, especially when the wing-backs Alex Telles and more notably Aaron Wan-Bissaka doubled up with the wide centre-backs. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe found it very difficult to work the inside-left channel in the way they normally would.

Having finally found their feet in the second half, Paris were unbalanced by Solskjaer again, as he made a positive change, reverting to a back four and introducing Paul Pogba.

That 2-1 victory was the perfect start to a group that could still be very tight, but perversely it is performances like that which actually increase the frustration of United fans, because they can see what is possible.

All of the positivity and momentum of that win in the French capital dissipated thanks to a mind-numbing 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford, a display that saw them put up an Infogol Expected Goals figure of just 0.78. United have now taken just a point from their three home matches in the Premier League. Although the Premier League is nowhere near settling down as a competition, it's fair to say that the Red Devils have a massive battle on their hands to qualify for next season's Champions League (they are 2.54 in the Top 4 Finish market on the Exchange).

It will be fascinating to see whether Solskjaer will again select three at the back, which will likely mirror Leipzig's set-up. Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard are both injured, but there are no other serious concerns.

How do you solve a problem like Timo?

When RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann was quizzed about how he would go about replacing Chelsea-bound star striker Timo Werner, he answered that there was no way to replace him like-for-like. Instead, he wanted to see his team share the goals around, and pose a threat from multiple areas.

His players have answered that clarion call - RBL have already had eight different scorers in the Bundesliga's first five matchdays, and wing-back Angelino has turned into a goal machine. The former Manchester City player scored both goals in the UCL win over Istanbul Basaksehir last week, and he has already scored two headers in the Bundesliga, not bad for a player who stands just 1.71 metres tall.

Leipzig and Nagelsmann learned a huge amount from their run to the semi-finals last season, and by knocking out Tottenham and Atletico Madrid, they have proven to themselves that they can rise to the challenge of playing at this level. Defensive colossus Dayot Upamecano has made a superb start to the season, and the return to fitness of Ibrahima Konate will give Die Roten Bullen another quality option at centre-back.

Even without key Austrian duo Konrad Laimer and Marcel Sabitzer in midfield (Sabitzer finally made his return on Saturday, and scored the winner against Hertha from the penalty spot), Leipzig have still surged to the top of the Bundesliga table. There are lots of options in attack: Yussuf Poulsen and Alexander Sorloth offer strength and tenacity, Hee-Chan Hwang has speed, while the likes of Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku are excellent at breaking forward from midfield.

Defender Lukas Klostermann is out with a knee problem, while midfielder Amadou Haidara has tested positive for COVID-19. Laimer is short of full fitness, while Kevin Kampl is struggling with a thigh injury.

United too short in even contest

Given United's poor form at Old Trafford and their general lack of consistency, it's very difficult to recommend backing them to win at a price like 2.34. Yes, they were outstanding in Paris, but even then they needed a late goal from Marcus Rashford to secure a deserved victory. Leipzig are unlikely to be as cumbersome or guileless as PSG were, and Nagelsmann will have watched that game with interest, looking for flaws like Sherlock Holmes hunts for clues at a murder scene.

You could get the draw and the Leipzig win onside by backing Draw/Leipzig Double Chance, and if you use the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi you can combine it with an Over 1.5 Goals bet to get combined odds of 2.04. Alternatively, you could keep it a bit more simple and back the visitors Draw No Bet at 2.4 on the Exchange.

Tactical battle may take a while to settle

Both of these sides may well look to soak up pressure and do damage with swift counter-attacks, and it could take a while for legs to tire and space to open up, as was the case in Paris. Leipzig do like to burst out of the traps, but will they be a bit more circumspect given the speed United have at their disposal in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford?

In the Half With Most Goals market, you can back Second Half at 11/10, and I think that's an attractive option.

Bold Bruno to hit the target

The irrepressible Bruno Fernandes scored in Paris for Manchester United, and hit two shots on target in that game. In the Premier League, he has had seven shots on target in five matches, and has scored three goals. Keep an eye on the team news, and if he starts, back him to have two or more shots on target at 11/5 on the Sportsbook. In a United side that is very much hit-and-miss, he is the biggest star.

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