Danny Higginbotham previews "very difficult" Bayern Munich tie

Sports Mole looks ahead to Manchester United's Champions League tie against Bayern Munich with their former defender Danny Higginbotham.

Such is the size of the task that lies ahead of Manchester United tomorrow evening, the majority of bookmakers are offering odds of 6-1 that they topple Bayern Munich, even though the Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie is being played at Old Trafford.

While United have ailed during the transition between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, their Bundesliga counterparts are threatening to surpass their treble-winning achievements of last term under the guidance of Pep Guardiola.

"It's very, very difficult. Bayern are the best team in the world – there is no question about that. You go through their team, there are so many players that you have to try to stop. They've won the league in Germany with seven games to spare, they're a phenomenal side with so many strengths," former United defender Higginbotham conceded to Sports Mole.

"If United play to their capabilities and Bayern play to theirs, Bayern will win. The beauty of football is, if United are on top of their game and Bayern aren't, then there is a chance."

Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery celebrates scoring with his teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match Hertha BSC Berlin vs FC Bayern Munich in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on March 25, 2014© Getty Images

Bayern's 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim at the weekend took their goal tally for the campaign to 127 from 44 outings in all competitions, conceding a stingy 27 in the process.

However, suspension will sideline Brazilian centre-back Dante against Moyes's charges, which is likely to see holding midfielder Javi Martinez drop in alongside former Manchester City defender Jerome Boateng. Although Higginbotham is not of the opinion that there is a major "weakness" within the German club's rearguard, he has claimed that if there are any flaws to be found, it will be in defence.

"What United must ensure is that going into the second leg, they are still in it. The Champions League is difficult because you saw in the last round that the majority of teams that played away first went through. It's how you go about the game. Do you go on the attack and leave yourself exposed to the Bayern counter-attack? Or do you play more of a cagey game and hopefully go to Munich with them not having scored?," said the 35-year-old.

"You've got to mix that up. You can't go hell for leather against Bayern. By doing that, you are playing into their hands. It's probably better to turn it into more of a chess game, then try to look at any weaknesses that Bayern do have. Perhaps that's the way to look at.

Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez celebrates after scoring in a friendly match against Sao Paulo on July 31, 2013© AFP

"[The centre-backs] would be their weakness, but it's only a weakness in their team, which doesn't make them bad players. They are still very good players, it's just if you look at the Bayern team they can be viewed as their weak links. Having said that, their centre-halfs would get into the majority of Premier League teams, if not all of them. It's not a weakness as such, but they are the weakness part of that Bayern unit."

A hat-trick from Robin van Persie set up this clash, although a knee injury has sidelined United's Dutch striker until next month at the earliest.

His absence is likely to see 17-goal Wayne Rooney spearhead the United attack, but it is who Moyes selects to operate in support of the England international that is a cause for uncertainty at present. Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young are all likely to be in contention, as is Longsight-born Danny Welbeck.

There have been those that have raised concerns over a perceived lack of composure in front of goal, but Higginbotham believes that the 23-year-old has shown enough ability in recent weeks to prove that he should be involved.

Manchester United's English striker Danny Welbeck scores the opening goal past Norwich City's English goalkeeper John Ruddy (R) during the English Premier League football match on December 28, 2013© Getty Images

"Everyone praised Ryan Giggs and Van Persie for being fantastic against Olympiacos, which they were, but Welbeck made a huge difference. He was able to stretch that game in United's favour and if you look at the [recent] Manchester City match, on the rare occasions that City were caused problems, it was normally down to Welbeck stretching the game and that allowed Rooney to drop a little deeper to pick the ball up in space," stated Higginbotham, who made one Champions League appearance for the Red Devils.

"You have to stretch Bayern. The last thing that you want to be doing against them is playing in your own half. Most teams now rely on one or two players to stretch defences and open up room for their ball players.

"The best teams at the moment are at their strongest between the defence and midfield. The likes of David Silva is brilliant at getting in between the lines. Liverpool also do it really well with Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, which allows Luis Suarez to drop into the gaps that are provided. It's not a coincidence that he has scored quite a few goals from the edge of the box and further this season."

With Welbeck looking to "stretch" the Bayern backline, Higginbotham has also urged for the inclusion of veteran midfielder Giggs, even at the age of 40: "Giggs would be [in my team] because he provides that extra bit of leadership and experience. You saw what he was capable of against Olympiacos – he's managed to transform his style of play and always looks to pass forwards. The communication that he brings will be just as important as what he can do with the ball."

Manchester United Manager David Moyes applauds the fans at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on March 29, 2014
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