Manchester United travel to the Allianz Arena for their Champions League group stage opener against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
The Red Devils go into the game on a poor run of form with back-to-back Premier League defeats to Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Erik ten Hag will want a strong response from his players in Munich, and here are four things United can learn from Leverkusen’s 2-2 draw at Bayern.
Play with a high defensive line
Leverkusen played with a high defensive line on Friday. Edmond Tapsoba was generally the last player with an average position of 35 yards away from goal.
The Burkinabe star was good with his concentration, and made some crucial ball recoveries including an incredible last-man tackle to deny Jamal Musiala.
Lisandro Martinez should be tasked with a similar role against Bayern, but will need to be precise with his challenges against a good counter-attacking side.
Pass the ball with better tempo and precision
One of the highlights of Leverkusen’s win was their control of possession in the game. They had 488 passes on the night compared to Bayern’s 521.
Xabi Alonso’s side had a passing accuracy of 86 per cent which was only slightly less than Bayern’s (87). This contributed to their possession share of 48 per cent.
United are capable of stringing regular passes under Ten Hag, but need quicker and precise transitions from midfield to attack to test the Bayern defence.
Leverkusen did not adapt to counter-attacking tactics against Bayern, but they had one occasion where they took advantage of the hosts’ high defensive line.
United are traditionally known for scoring goals from counter-attacks. It is one of the main strengths of theirs, but they need to mix their play up on Wednesday.
Dayot Upamecano is a weak link in Bayern’s defence, but United need to time their counter-attacks to precision. Losing possession higher up could be costly with Harry Kane in the opposition ranks.
Capitalise on dead-ball situations
Leverkusen created plenty of goalscoring chances from open play against Bayern last week, but their goals came from two dead-ball situations in either half.
After Kane’s early opener for Bayern, Leverkusen responded in the 24th minute through Alejandro Grimaldo. The Spaniard scored with a terrific free-kick from the edge of the box.
Just seconds before the final whistle, Leverkusen broke the hearts of Bayern fans. They won a penalty from an Alphonso Davies foul which was comfortably converted by Exequiel Palacios.
United need to capitalise on any set-pieces against Bayern especially free-kicks. They have not scored from a direct freekick since Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal versus Norwich City in April 2022.
Stats from Sofascore.com
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