Manchester United v Bayern Munich: Bayern are 'beatable', says Rafael, who insists United remain 'the best club in the world'

The United right-back is hopeful of progress to the Champions League semi-finals

Rafael da Silva has admitted that Bayern Munich are a better side now than when they eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League four years ago. But he declared that United’s reputation as “the best club in the world” makes them believe they can beat Pep Guardiola’s side in the quarter-final.

The 23-year-old Brazilian – who said he will be fit for tomorrow night’s first leg at  Old Trafford despite a tight thigh muscle that forced his half-time withdrawal in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Aston Villa – was sent off against Bayern in the Old Trafford leg of the 2010 quarter-final. He said he had learnt his lesson from his 50th-minute dismissal, which led to Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous gibe about “typical Germans”. The red card  was not a result of him being “rash,” he said, but he agreed he had learnt to keep his head better now.

“They [Bayern] are better now [than they were then]”, he said after Wayne Rooney’s two goals, Juan Mata’s first for United and Javier Hernandez’s injury-time strike had sealed victory over Villa. “[Manuel] Neuer is there and others too [now],” Rafael said. “But everyone is beatable in football. If you speak about United, we are the best club in the world. The history here is fantastic. After what happened in 1999 everything is possible.” He had been watching highlights only last week of the final from that year in which United beat Bayern with two late goals.

The big question is whether manager David Moyes will abandon some of his characteristic caution and take the home leg to the Germans by deploying Shinji Kagawa, who was penetrative and influential against Villa, rather than settle for the more guarded three-man midfield. Kagawa playing behind Rooney, with Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young out wide, would be the ambitious option. A three-man midfield possibly including Ryan Giggs – who was rested on Saturday – Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, but no Kagawa, would be the defensive option. Moyes may be without Antonio Valencia, who is suffering tendonitis.


The Villa manager, Paul Lambert, who spent the 1996-97 season with Borussia Dortmund, said United faced a formidable challenge  against Bayern. “You wouldn’t back against United but they are going to have to play, over two legs, one of the best teams in Europe,” he said. “At this stage it becomes a proper competition. David [Moyes] will know he is up against a team that is potentially going to win it. He’ll know the sort of level he’ll need to get to. They [United] are going to be without the ball for a long time.”

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