Manchester United boss David Moyes believes his side can match the might of Bayern Munich as they prepare to face the European champions in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. The match pits two of the great names of European soccer, with eight European Cups between them, head-to-head. The tie also brings back memories of a classic final between the sides in 1999 when United famously scored twice in injury time to take the trophy in dramatic circumstances. Bayern had revenge the last time the sides met, in the 2010 quarterfinals, when scoring two late goals at Old Trafford to progress.
But right now only one of the teams look worthy of being considered among Europe’s elite. After winning a unique treble last season, Bayern have arguably improved under Pep Guardiola and have already retained their Bundesliga title. In contrast, United have endured a disastrous first season since Moyes replaced legendary two-time Champions League winner Sir Alex Ferguson. The club have long since lost any hope of retaining their title and lie a dismal seventh in the Premier League. Yet, having required a rousing comeback at Old Trafford to edge out Olympiakos in the last round of the Champions League, Moyes still believes his side can mix it with the best.
"I think the pressure is equally balanced because we want to win the game as much as they do,” he said, according to Manchester United’s official website. “We go into the game knowing, on our day, we are as good a side as any. We have to show it more often but I have got great belief in the players.
"I get the feeling all the players want to play. In training, their attitude suggests they all want to play in the big games. Over the years that is what they have all wanted to do."
Moyes admits that he has concerns about his defensive options going into the first leg at Old Trafford, however. Patrice Evra is suspended, while Rafael was forced off with a thigh injury during the 4-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday and missed training on Monday. There is some positive news with Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Antonio Valencia having all returned to training.
Bayern also have disciplinary and fitness issues. Brazilian center-back Dante will miss out through suspension, while midfielder Thiago Alcantara faces between six and eight weeks on the sidelines having suffered a knee injury in Bayern’s 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim at the weekend, in which a host of first-team players were rested.
The Bavarians will be facing English opposition for the second round running, having ultimately disposed comfortably of Arsenal in the last-16. But Pep Guardiola is taking nothing for granted against Manchester United, despite their struggles this campaign.
“We are up against Manchester United and they are one of the most important clubs in the world, regardless of their current situation,” he said, according to UEFA.com. “Just look back at the last ten to 15 years under Sir Alex. They still have very good players.
“I know deep in my heart which [Manchester United] team we are going to face. Maybe they have not had a good season in the Premier League, but in the Champions League they beat Leverkusen [5-0], they have won many important games. But when I see [Wayne] Rooney, when I see [Rio] Ferdinand, when I see [Nemanja] Vidic, when I see Ryan Giggs, when I see Chicharito [Javier Hernandez], [Danny] Welbeck ... I know them all too well.”
Where to watch: The first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal will kick off from Old Trafford at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.