In arguably the most anticipated matchup of Matchday 1, Bayern Munich and Manchester United will face off in the UEFA Champions League group stage and have an early shot at claiming top spot in Group A.
The two are frontrunners to advance out of a group that includes Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen, especially after refreshing their squads over the summer. Bayern and United are finding varying levels to start the season, though; the former is unbeaten in league play, while the latter is in the bottom half of the table after just two wins in five. This high-stakes matchup offers a true test for both sides to see if their current form is temporary or indicative of the season to come.
Here’s what to know before tuning in.
How to watch and odds
- Date: Wednesday, Sept. 20 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Allianz Arena — Munich, Germany
- Watch: Paramount+
- Odds: Bayern Munich -200; Draw +360; Manchester United +470
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Bayern Munich: The German champions may have missed out on the German Supercup, but otherwise things are so far, so good for Bayern this season. The team is joint-top of the Bundesliga after four games and have scored 11 goals in the process. Four of them come from new striker Harry Kane, who is adjusting nicely on the pitch to life in Munich. He also has familiarity with the opponent after scoring five goals in 19 games against Manchester United during his spell with Tottenham Hotspur and is unwilling to underestimate them despite the rough patch.
“It’s going to be a tough game, first and foremost,” he told CBS Sports on Sunday. “They’re in a little bit of a tricky patch at the moment but sometimes they’re the most dangerous team to play against. They’re always looking to fight back and get a big result, so we’re just focused on playing against a really good team.”
Kane admitted that Bayern want to be contenders in every competition they play in, which means eventually eyeing the Champions League title itself. A strong start, he admitted, is crucial to that mission.
“I think with all Champions League groups, you kind of just take it game by game and see where you’re at,” he said. “We have to start well. You always want to start your group well and get off to a good start and that sets up the rest of the competition.”
Manchester United: After an optimistic first season in charge and a summer transfer window where United spent big to ensure Erik ten Hag made his mark on the roster, little has gone right at Old Trafford. The team has just two wins out of five in the Premier League and has yet to genuinely impress in terms of performances. Combined with a long list of absences through injury, ten Hag’s feud with Jadon Sancho, and Antony’s leave of absence amid investigations into sexual assault, the mood is notably tense and the pressure is on to correct course.
Ten Hag could count on Marcus Rashfrod and new signing Rasmus Hojlund to lead United to success on Wednesday. Rashford was one of the stars of ten Hag’s first year in charge with 17 league goals but has only one so far. Hojlund, meanwhile, has just two games for United under his belt but the 20-year-old is ten Hag’s pick to end the team’s long search for a true goalscorer. The manager preached patience as the pair build a relationship, but believes their partnership is a promising one.
“How can the two take benefits from each other? They have to know each other,” ten Hag said, per the Manchester Evening News. “That process has just started. At the same time, you need results, so it has to go hand-in-hand. We reflect after games and in training. We have seen Rasmus and Rashy together, looking at how they can benefit. Discussions between them on the pitch are ongoing. The connection is already there.”
Whether or not ten Hag himself earns patience is a different story. The performance is arguably more important than the result, which puts pressure on ten Hag and company to show they can go toe-to-toe with Bayern. If they cannot, it could only worsen the mood — and make ten Hag’s seat even hotter.
United have the players to do damage, but even on their best day, beating this Bayern team is a tall task. In this run of form, though, United will be lucky to muster even glimpses of potential even if the scoreline is a modest one. Pick: Bayern Munich 2, Manchester United 0