While Old Trafford is proclaimed as a Theatre of Dreams, in retrospect, it has been a theatre of struggle and misery this season. The Stretford End and co had suffered at the hands of Newcastle, Everton and West Brom. When the reigning European champions Bayern flew into Manchester, United were firm underdogs. But with a performance full of desire and commitment, attributes they have found lacking this season, David Moyes's side defied the odds in the week of the Grand National.
Through Nemanja Vidic's excellent 58th minute header, cancelled out by Bastian Schweinstiger's emphatic volley, United have given themselves a viable shot at progression into the last four. They are the overwhelming underdogs remaining in the prestigious competition, but with a battling display as such then the prospect of advancement in Munich on Wednesday is possible.
1-1 is a delicate score-line, liable to swing either way. United, as they were in Manchester, will have to be disciplined. Vidic and Ferdinand will have to be as solid as they were here while Danny Welbeck must acquire clinical finishing in time for the monumental second-leg. The likes of Carrick and Fellaini must continue to press tirelessly in the enervating challenge of dispossessing these majestically assured Bayern players. The German giants, through Schweinstiger, have possession of a crucial away goal, potentially the difference between the sides. The German champions are a formidable team, but certainly not invincible.
United exposed the Bavarians' flaws. The pace of Welbeck showcased the defensive uncertainty of Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez, who will miss the second-leg through suspension. The England striker was clean on goal early in the encounter, after Boateng's slip had gifted him priceless space, but fired over. He will need his goalscoring boots at the Allianz Arena.
Welbeck will inevitably trouble Martinez's probable replacement Dante with his speed and tendency for a silky trick. Dante is nerved by the combination of pace and trickery, proven by his struggles up against Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade Chamberlain last month.
Pep Guardiola will additionally be shorn of Schweinstiger, who was sent off for a second bookable offence after a cynical foul on Wayne Rooney. The absences of the Germany midfielder and Martinez will slightly deplete this outstanding Bayern team, but will not thwart their majestic powers. Such is their depth in squad that Toni Kroos will most probably replace Schweinstiger alongside the imperial Phillip Lahm while Mario Gotze should play centrally, winged by Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
At times, the gulf in quality between the sides showed. United's unfashionable propensity to lump the ball in utter hope compared nattractively to Bayern's composed nature.
Progression into the semi-finals of the European Cup will be arduous for Moyes, given the riches of quality at Guardiola's disposal. A goalless draw will be rule out the prospect of a tie with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Bayern have the advantage, and with their possession-revolving style of play, goal-scoring opportunities to score the decisive away goal will be few and far between. But they have the belief to do it.