Group B is intriguingly poised going into the final round of matches with the top three all in with a chance of qualification. Wolfsburg top the group by a point from Man Utd, with PSV a point further back, though they host bottom of the group CSKA and are odds-on to win that game. If PSV were to win, then United would have to beat Wolfsburg to go through, though their failure to find the net in recent weeks hasn’t filled their fans with confidence ahead of this game.
Wolfsburg have won both their home games in this qualification campaign without conceding, though they lost on the road to both PSV and Man United. In the Europa League last season at home they beat Inter Milan but suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat against Napoli and also lost against an Everton side that struggled last season in the group stages. Prior to their home defeat against Dortmund on the weekend, Wolfsburg had won six of seven unbeaten games at the Volkswagen Arena in the Bundesliga this season, including against Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin, and Schalke. Six of their eight home league games had at least three goals, with both teams scoring in the last five and two of these games saw six goals each.
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After a defeat in their opening group game at PSV, United have since gone unbeaten but disappointing draws at CSKA, and in particular at home to PSV, means that qualification is far from secure. Indeed if we include this season and United’s last Champions League campaign in 2013/14 then their away record is a disappointing W1-D3-L3, with that sole win coming over Leverkusen. We have United ranked 14th in Europe, while Wolfsburg are 17th and United’s Champions League away record against sides ranked between 12th and 22nd since 2010/11 is W3-D4-L1 with seven of these eight games having fewer than three goals.
United have a number of injury problems ahead of this crucial fixture, with Schneiderlin and Rooney both out while there are a number of defensive absentees including, Valencia, Rojo, Jones, and Shaw. Sides that have nine points going into their final group game have a W9-D3-L1 record in their last fixture when it is at home since 2006/07 and if we only included instances where their opposition have at least five points going into the game then the record is W6-D2-L0 in that time. This, together with United’s poor recent away record in Europe and their lack of goals in the league means that we’re siding with Wolfsburg in this one.
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