RB Leipzig v Manchester United: Ole's men to pass acid test
Manchester United need to avoid defeat in Leipzig to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, and Kevin Hatchard believes they have enough firepower to get the job done.
RB Leipzig v Manchester United
Tuesday 08 December, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Leipzig keen to take the next step
Saturday's chaotic 3-3 draw at Bayern Munich represented progress of sorts for RB Leipzig. It was the first time they have scored in the Allianz Arena, and it was their fourth consecutive Bundesliga draw against the record champions. It could have been an even better result - Die Roten Bullen twice led in Munich, only to be pegged back on both occasions. Leipzig are third in Germany's top flight, two points behind Bayern.
Intriguingly, Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann admits he had an eye on this must-win clash with Manchester United, even in a game against a direct title rival. Nagelsmann made a flurry of substitutions after the break, disrupting the flow of his side. In the end, a draw was probably a fair result.
It's worth bearing in mind just how important this clash is for Leipzig.
Having had a watershed moment last term by beating Atletico Madrid in the UCL quarter-finals, they now want to make sure they reach the knockout phase every season. Nagelsmann is ambitious, and so are Red Bull, although the club's policy of mainly signing young talent with a view to selling it on in the future ties his hands to some extent. The loss of 28-goal top scorer Timo Werner to Chelsea was an expected yet hefty blow, and the failure to close out a permanent deal for Czech forward Patrik Schick didn't go down well with the coach. None of the new forwards have really shown they can help fill the void yet, although Justin Kluivert did score his first Leipzig goal against Bayern.
Konrad Laimer, Benjamin Henrichs and Lukas Klostermann are all still sidelined, while excellent French centre-back Dayot Upamecano is suspended. Leipzig have the depth to replace him, with Willi Orban, Marcel Halstenberg and Ibrahima Konate all candidates to step in.
Inconsistent United have to show their quality
As Olympic swimming superstar Michael Phelps once famously stated, it's not how you start that's important, it's how you finish. Remarkably, Manchester United find themselves one defeat from Champions League elimination, having started the section with a superb and fully deserved victory against PSG in Paris and a 5-0 hammering of Leipzig at Old Trafford. A careless defeat in Turkey against Istanbul Basaksehir slowed their momentum, and last week they lost the reverse against PSG, a game they could have won had they been more clinical in front of goal. Anthony Martial's miss at 1-1 will be the defining moment of their UCL campaign if they crash out in eastern Germany.
United have won five of their last six games in all competitions, and at their best, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are unplayable in attack.
They blew West Ham away in the second half of their 3-1 win on Saturday at the London Stadium, and they produced a stirring comeback at Southampton before that. In theory, this game should be perfectly set up for their speedy counter-attacks, as Leipzig have to push for the win, and tend to give opponents a chance. However, United also have a nasty habit of switching off, just as they did in Turkey.
Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are injured, while Fred is suspended after his uncanny impression of a wrecking ball against Paris last week.
Leipzig too short to take the win they need
RB Leipzig have won all of their home matches this season across the Champions League and Bundesliga, but I think that has dragged down their price in the Match Odds market too far to 2.4. They beat Paris but made an awful start, and they have had a pretty gentle run of domestic games on home soil. I think they are missing the bite and energy of the injured Laimer in midfield, and you can get in behind the cavalier Angelino on the Leipzig left.
We shouldn't be distracted by United's 5-0 win against RBL at Old Trafford, as the German side were very much in the game at 1-0 in the second half, but I do think the visitors will get lots of chances on the counter, and a trip to the largely empty Red Bull Arena won't be intimidating.
I'll back United/Draw Double Chance and Over 2.5 Goals at 2.74 on the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi. All five of United's UCL games this term have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land.
If you just want a goals bet, you could do worse than backing Over 3.5 Goals at 2.5. Leipzig have to push for the win, and I can't see United being circumspect here, because they aren't good enough defensively to just dig in for the draw they need. Leipzig's last two games have been a 4-3 win and a 3-3 draw.
Rashford to haunt Leipzig again
Marcus Rashford is trading at 3.35 to score at any time, and that's far too generous a price. He has scored in three of his last four appearances, and bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture. His speed will be a vital weapon for United on the break.
On the Leipzig side of things, Emil Forsberg is playing some of his best football this term. He scored at Bayern, takes penalties and free-kicks, and is playing a bit further forward at times this season. He is trading at an attractive 3.6.
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