Aston Villa fail to disrupt United’s flight path as Pep Guardiola’s Bayern prepare to swoop
Rafael Da Silva confident he’ll be fit to face the German champions at Old Trafford
United’s Wayne Rooney scores his side’s second from the penalty spot. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
With Bayern Munich due at Old Trafford tomorrow evening, Rafael da Silva’s enforced removal at half-time was not what David Moyes wanted. The manager’s defence already looks severely depleted.
After two goals from Wayne Rooney had answered Ashley Westwood’s early free-kick for Aston Villa, the first-choice right-back felt a problem in a thigh. While Moyes stated there would be an anxious wait to see if Da Silva could face the European Cup holders, the Brazilian was more confident. “I am okay. My thigh was a little bit tight,” he said. “We just wanted to make sure I would be okay for Tuesday.”
Moyes is already in near-crisis mode regarding his defence. Against the pace of Arjen Robben, he will be forced to play the unimpressive Alexander Buttner due to Patrice Evra’s one-game suspension. Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are almost certainly unavailable due to injury, too. So, if Da Silva does not make it, Phil Jones will be shuffled across to right-back because Antonio Valencia, who can fill in there, is also a major doubt.
This would all mean having to field the ageing central-defensive pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, both of whom have to defend deep to due to their increasing sluggishness. To have Robben, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos and company pour forward in attack mode tries the smartest of defences, never mind a makeshift one.
Da Silva admits it will take something special to progress against Bayern. “We have to do 200 per cent or 300 per cent to win,” he said. “Everyone knows it’s hard, that’s why I am saying we have to play with real quality.”
The 23-year-old has sour memories of facing the German club, who last week won a 24th title with seven games to spare. He was sent off at Old Trafford in the second leg at the same stage of the 2009-10 competition in a 3-2 defeat of Bayern that eliminated United, after a 4-4 aggregate draw, on away goals. “We were 3-0 up and that happened, I got sent off. But I learned from that. I hope it will be different this time,” Da Silva said. “100 per cent it’s on my mind still. It cost United the match.”
A first United goal from Juan Mata and Javier Hernandez’s late finish completed an easy afternoon for Moyes’ side, after he had walked to his seat before the teams emerged to front up before the fly-past by a plane hired by a faction of supporters unhappy at his dismal first season. This drew widespread applause for the Scot – there were also chants of “Stand up for David Moyes” during the victory.
Jones made a fair point when stating that even if United were not 15 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, they might still be the underdogs against Bayern.
“If we were top of the league, Bayern would still have been favourites because they have got a superb team full of individual class. We have got to work on how to beat them,” said the 22-year-old.
Buttner talked a good game when asked about the prospect of facing his countryman. “I know what Arjen Robben can do and I am ready for him,” the Dutchman said. “I have watched him so I know how he plays. I have never played against him before and I haven’t watched videos or anything like that to study him but I know enough from what I have seen to know how he plays the game. It is not under discussion how good he is.”
Or Bayern. This is a team that Pep Guardiola appears to have made better than the one which Jupp Heynckes took to the treble of Bundesliga, European Cup and German Cup last year.
Yet Da Silva insists they can be defeated. “They are better. But everyone is beatable in football,” said the right-back, who pointed to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winner in the famous 1999 final.
“If you speak about United, we are the best club in the world. The history here is fantastic. After what happened in ‘99 everything is possible. I watch the video sometimes. There was five minutes left. Then it was 1-1 and then we won the match so everything is possible.
“Of course, 100 per cent it gives me inspiration. I watch it all the time. I like Ole. When he was with the reserves (coaching them) I spoke with him about that goal a lot.”