When Bayern Munich drew Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, few planned on betting against them. After all, here were the reigning European champions and defending Bundesliga title-holders facing off against a side who had stumbled their way through David Moyes’ debut season.
When Thiago Alcantara was ruled out of the tie with a knee injury, United would have to face one less superstar, but considering the number at Pep Guardiola’s disposal it was not a huge boost in the English side’s favour.
However, holding Bayern to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford was only part of the success story for United in the first-leg.
With Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger both suspended for the return match on Wednesday, suddenly the German side were looking, if not thin then certainly below full-strength.
And now Guardiola has received another blow, with second-choice goalkeeper Tom Starke reportedly ruled out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
That is the claim of German football magazine Kicker, who state that Starke sustained the injury during training on Friday, and Bayern have since taken to Twitter to confirm that the 'keeper underwent surgery this weekend.
While at first glance that may not seem like a significant blow for a side who call on Manuel Neuer on a regular basis, Starke was expected to deputise for the German number one in Saturday’s match against Augsburg.
However, following that blow Neuer was required to play in something of a dead-rubber for Bayern. It also means that 19-year-old Leopold Zingerle is likely to be on the bench when United travel to the Allianz Arena.
Most people may still be tipping Bayern to progress to the semi-finals. But with each new twist there is a suggestion that this could be United’s tie...provided, of course, that the news of Wayne Rooney’s own potential absence is just a canny mind-game from Moyes.