Manchester United head to Germany next week needing at least a draw to book a last 16 Champions League place.

It is incredibly frustrating to be in this position, having blown a strong start to the group.

A group stage exit would be humiliating, and it would bring back memories of 2015.

A 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg sealed United’s group stage exit under Louis van Gaal, and it pushed the board into making a managerial change months later.

VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United FC - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A handful of United players who featured in Germany are still at the club.

Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and David de Gea were among United’s four starters in Germany five years ago.

Out of this quartet, only De Gea is likely to start at RB Leipzig. Mata will be on the bench, and probably Martial too after a terrible run of form.

The fifth current United man to be part of that squad was Michael Carrick.

Now United’s assistant boss, Carrick was a second half substitute in the defeat.

VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United FC - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

How Van Gaal’s side lined up

XI: De Gea; Varela, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schweinsteiger, Fellaini, Depay, Mata, Lingard; Martial

Substitutes: Romero, Young, Carrick, McNair, Borthwick-Jackson, Pereira, Powell.

 

United’s goals were scored by Anthony Martial, along with an own goal.

The match is best remembered for Van Gaal’s desperation move to bring on Nick Powell as a substitute. The youngster had barely kicked a ball under him before that point.

Far more quality now

Looking back at that XI, it is not a surprise they failed to get the job done. However, Wolfsburg were not a particularly good team either.

This United side has so much more quality, with Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes the stars.

The problem is RB Leipzig are a high quality of opponent, cancelling out United’s improvements. It will be a very tough 90 minutes.

The experience of the five United men who endured the disappointment under Van Gaal could help. They will not want to go through that again.

If United do suffer defeat and get knocked out, it will be incredibly frustrating, showing a lack of progress over the past five years.

We await Solskjaer throwing on Facundo Pellistri in a Nick Powell style substitution.

VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United FC - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Champions League group stage fixtures

  1. PSG (A)

    United win 2-1: Fernandes, Rashford

  2. RB Leipzig (H)

    United win 5-0: Greenwood, Rashford (3), Martial

  3. Istanbul Basaksehir (A)

    United lose 2-1: Martial

  4. Istanbul Basaksehir (H)

    United win 4-1: Fernandes (2), Rashford, James

  5. PSG (H)

    United lose 3-1: Rashford

  6. RB Leipzig (A)

    United lose 3-2: Fernandes, Pogba

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