Daily Debate: Can Man Utd win the CL?

With the knock-out phase of the Champions League under way, two TEAMtalk writers argue whether Manchester Utd can lift the trophy this season.

Last Updated: 17/09/14 at 16:02 Post Comment

In Daily Debate, two TEAMtalk writers give their views on a hot topic and then invite readers to decide who has put forward the best argument.

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Can Manchester United win the Champions League this season?

United get their Champions League campaign back under way tonight with the first leg of their last-16 tie against Olympiakos and our two writers have very different thoughts on their chances in the tournament.

United striker Wayne Rooney is in confident mood, while Robin van Persie believes as many as 10 teams can still lift the trophy in Lisbon on May 24.

Matt Stead and Matt Briggs have their say...

Matt Stead (@MattStead91) - THEY CAN WIN IT!

Chelsea in 2012, Milan in 2007, Liverpool in 2005, Real Madrid in 2000. Manchester United in 2014?

While the Red Devils historically belong with these European heavyweights of club football, what the above clubs achieved in those respective years should be proof enough that United - despite their disappointments so far this season - can crown a tumultuous campaign with a stunning Champions League win.

When Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that they finished 6th in the Premier League that season (United's current position), 25 points off top spot (United are currently 15 points off) and losing 10 games (United have lost eight so far).

Milan's victory over Liverpool in 2007 plastered over a league campaign where they finished 4th, with a whopping 36-point gap separating them and champions Inter after seven league defeats.

United will know only too well from their bitter rivals Liverpool that Europe's premier competition can be won during an otherwise poor season. Their unbelievable win in 2005 came when Rafael Benitez's side finished 5th, 37 points off Jose Mourinho's Chelsea and with 14 league defeats under their belt.

Real Madrid's two Champions League wins in the space of three years from 1997 to 2000 helped their fans forget respective 4th and 5th place finishes, too.

Simply put, United can win the Champions League, and it certainly wouldn't be unprecedented. Amidst the havoc of David Moyes' opening salvo in the Premier League, their Champions League form has been terrific as one of just three unbeaten clubs in the competition. With the joint-best defensive record on top of that, there's reason for optimism when the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie sound out United's intentions in the competition.

That Moyes has taken like a duck to water in the competition has come as a surprise to most, if not all, but would a Champions League win for a side clearly brimming with talent be such a shock? Not in my opinion, and I'd back them to beat the world's best if they have to on their way.

Matt Briggs (@MattPBriggs) - THEY CANNOT WIN IT!

United are 25/1 with the bookies to repeat their 2008 heroics and the layers have got this one wrong, because David Moyes' men should be 250/1!

If Moyes' charges can edge past Olympiakos and into the quarter-finals then that will be as good as it gets for the struggling Premier League champions. Their creaking rearguard is more likely to get exposed as the tournament progresses and the opposition improves and with four home league defeats already at Old Trafford this season Europe's elite will not be phased by a trip to Manchester.

United have a terrible record against the better domestic teams this term with just two wins against sides in the top half of the Premier League table and with all the big guns still left in the tournament United's flat-track bully status is unlikely to be effective.

Van Persie is fit again for United, but that's where the positives end for them as new arrival Juan Mata is cup-tied and their lack of midfield options will see them come up short. Without Mata United's lack invention will become evident and I'm not so sure they have the midfield dynamism, even with Marouane Fellaini back, to keep the better sides in check. That will more than likely leave United's rearguard exposed with the opposition's midfield running straight at United's back four - who have conceded 31 goals in just 27 games in the league this season. It all spells trouble for a limited United side, who should see a quarter-final place as a moral victory.

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