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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Everything you need to know ahead of Man United's must-win game in Wolfsburg

It could be a defining night for Louis van Gaal in northern Germany.

Chris Smalling proved the match-winner for United in the reverse fixture back in September.
Chris Smalling proved the match-winner for United in the reverse fixture back in September.
Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

LOUIS VAN GAAL has said tonight’s crucial Champions League clash with Wolfsburg is his most important match yet since taking over the club last year.

There is a lot at stake so here’s everything you need to know before tuning in.


It’s pretty simple for United: only a win will guarantee qualification and will also secure Van Gaal’s side top spot in the group.

A draw will only be good enough if PSV fail to beat CSKA Moscow in tonight’s other Group B fixture.

Britain Soccer Premier League Source: Associated Press

United will also qualify if the Russians conjure a victory in Eindhoven but will go through as the second-placed side.

For the hosts, a point will secure top spot.


From their last 10 games in all competitions, United have drawn seven (one stalemate subsequently became a penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough). And those ten games have also yielded a paltry seven goals.

They’ve struggled badly in their last three fixtures especially – failing to score in two of them. With Anthony Martial buckling under the incredible responsibility on his young shoulders (no goals in his last nine appearances), it’s a genuine puzzle as to where United’s goals will come from.

They are tough to beat. From 24 games in total, they’ve lost just three in 90 minutes. But not losing may not be enough tonight.

Wolfsburg head into this following a disheartening experience against Borussia Dortmund last Saturday when ex-United player Shinji Kagawa scored deep in stoppage time to claim all three points for his side. Just moments before, Ricardo Rodriguez had drawn Wolfsburg level with a penalty.

It was their first home defeat since March 2014 and the reverse came on the back of a scoreless draw away to Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg the week before.


United are missing a couple of high-profile players, notably Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin. But Ander Herrera, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are all out too, along with long-term casualties Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw. Meanwhile, Paddy McNair was replaced at half-time against West Ham due to injury but has been included in the travelling party.

It means that United have some selection headaches. Will McNair be fit enough to start or will Guillermo Varela come in for his first start in a red shirt? And will Ashley Young and Memphis Depay earn recalls to the starting XI?

Germany Soccer Cup Final Luiz Gustavo scored one of Wolfsburg's three goals in the German Cup final win over Dortmund back in May. Source: Michael Sohn

For Wolfsburg, midfielder Luiz Gustavo has admitted he won’t be fit to start the game and that it’s up to Dieter Hecking whether or not he’ll make the match-day squad.

The Man United squad looked a LOT different the last time they faced Wolfsburg in Germany

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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