VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester United FC meet on matchday six with both sides bidding to wrap up qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout phase.
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The stakes are high for VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester United FC as they meet on UEFA Champions League matchday six, with both sides bidding to wrap up qualification for the last 16 – and deal the other a knockout blow.
• Group B leaders Wolfsburg have never advanced beyond the group stage before but will be through with a draw and will definitely clinch first place with a win.
• United, a point behind their hosts in second place, need a win to guarantee qualification. They would also qualify regardless of their own result if PSV were to lose at home to PFC CSKA Moskva in the group's other game or if both matches are drawn.
• This latest encounter falls six years ago to the day since United won 3-1 at Wolfsburg through a Michael Owen hat-trick (44, 83, 90+1). Edin Džeko (56) scored for Wolfsburg, who were consigned to third with the defeat, as United, who had already qualified, secured first place.
• The lineups on 8 December 2009 were:
Wolfsburg: Benaglio, Riether, Costa, Barzagli, Schäfer, Josué, Hasebe (Ziani 72), Gentner, Misimović, Džeko, Grafite (Dejagah 73).
United: Kuszczak, Fletcher, Carrick, Evra, Scholes, Anderson, Park, Gibson, Nani (Valencia 74), Owen, Welbeck (Obertan 74).
• United had previously beaten Wolfsburg 2-1 at Old Trafford, overturning another Džeko goal (56) to win 2-1 through Ryan Giggs (59) and Michael Carrick (78).
• Wolfsburg will be looking to avenge their 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in September, when they took an early lead through Daniel Caligiuri but lost to goals by Juan Mata (penalty) and Chris Smalling.
• Dieter Hecking's men moved top of the group on matchday five thanks to a 2-0 victory at CSKA and are now looking to continue their excellent home form, where they have won twice without conceding in Group B.
• Diego Benaglio and Marcel Schäfer played in Wolfsburg's first match against English opponents, the 3-2 home triumph over Portsmouth FC in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage. Wolfsburg have since lost seven in a row against Premier League clubs.
• Wolfsburg's last home meeting with an English club was the 2-0 defeat against Everton FC in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage.
• United missed the chance to secure their place in the round of 16 when held 0-0 by PSV on matchday five.
• The Old Trafford team last fell at this hurdle in 2011/12 after a 2-1 defeat at FC Basel 1893 on matchday six. David de Gea, Phil Jones, Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young all played in that match on 7 December 2011.
• United are still looking for their first away victory in Group B (D1 L1) but did win 4-0 at Club Brugge KV in the play-offs.
• Their overall away record against sides from Germany is W5 D4 L5.
• The three-times winners suffered UEFA Champions League elimination on their previous visit to Germany – a 3-1 defeat at FC Bayern München in the 2013/14 quarter-finals. Dante played for the home side. Earlier that season they won 5-0 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the group stage, Antonio Valencia and Smalling among the scorers.
Coach and player links
• As coach of FC Bayern München (2009–11), Louis van Gaal was unbeaten in four encounters with Wolfsburg, winning three of them.
• As FC Barcelona coach, Van Gaal lifted the UEFA Super Cup against Borussia Dortmund (aggregate 3-1) in 1998. His overall record against German teams in UEFA competition is W10 D4 L4 (W7 D1 L0 with Ajax).
• Van Gaal's final European appearance as a player was a 5-1 defeat at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach with Sparta Rotterdam. That last campaign came in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup and comprised a penalty shoot-out win over Hamburger SV in the first round before a 6-2 aggregate loss to Mönchengladbach.
• Julian Draxler was in the FC Schalke 04 side beaten by United (0-2 h, 1-4 a) in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
• Smalling was on the Fulham FC bench when the London club won 1-0 at Wolfsburg in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
• As a Bayern player (2002–15), Schweinsteiger made 23 outings against Wolfsburg and scored six goals (W16 D3 L4).
• Anthony Martial played against Draxler, and United colleague Schweinsteiger, in Germany's 2-0 friendly defeat against France in Paris on 13 November.
• Rooney scored his record 50th England goal on 8 September against a Switzerland team including Timm Klose and Rodriguez. Smalling and Luke Shaw were also in that England side.
• With Portugal, Vieirinha beat Matteo Darmian's Italy 1-0 in June but suffered a 1-0 friendly reverse against Morgan Schneiderlin's France in September.
• Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo were in the Argentina side beaten in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final by a Germany team featuring André Schürrle.
• With Arsenal FC and Sunderland AFC, Bendtner did not score in ten appearances against United (W1 D1 L8).
• Players who have played together:
Schweinsteiger & Dante (Bayern 2012–15)
Schweinsteiger & Luiz Gustavo (Bayern 2011–13)
Schweinsteiger & Schürrle, Kruse, Draxler, Schäfer (Germany)
Martial, Schneiderlin & Josuha Guilavogui (France)
Daley Blind, Memphis Depay & Bas Dost (Netherlands)
• Naldo and Daniel Caligiuri are a booking away from a ban.
• Wolfsburg's run of three successive clean sheets, and their record-equalling 29-game unbeaten home run in the Bundesliga stretching back to 8 March 2014, came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on 5 December. Both sides scored in added time.
• Julian Draxler returned to action on Saturday after an adductor injury.
• Dante was sent off late on in the 0-0 draw at FC Augsburg on 29 November.
• Luiz Gustavo has missed the last three games due to a back problem, although he has resumed training.
• Robin Knoche (out since 18 September, ankle) made his first appearance of the season at any level as Wolfsburg's reserve team triumphed 8-1 over FC Eintracht Norderstedt 03 on 28 November. He was an unused substitute against Dortmund.
• United were held to a 0-0 draw by West Ham United FC in their most recent Premier League game – their third goalless draw in seven Premier League home games this season.
• Schweinsteiger scored his first goal for United, a header, in the 1-1 draw at Leicester City FC on 28 November.
• The 3-0 defeat at Arsenal FC on 4 October is the Red Devils' only reverse in their last 16 games in all competitions. That run includes a penalty shoot-out loss to Middlesbrough FC in the English League Cup on 28 October.
• Van Gaal's side have drawn seven of their last ten fixtures in all competitions.
• Rooney, on 499 United appearances, will miss the trip to Germany with an ankle injury.
• Marcos Rojo dislocated a shoulder in training on 2 December.
• Antonio Valencia had surgery on his left foot on 11 November, having been injured in the derby against Manchester City FC in late October.
• Former United right-back Gary Neville, who scored seven goals in 602 appearances for the club, was appointed Valencia CF coach until the end of the season on 2 December.