Old Trafford, Manchester
Wednesday, 25th November, 19:45 GMT
Manchester United host PSV Eindhoven in the fifth round of the Champions League knowing that victory will seal a place in the coveted knock out stages. But Louis van Gaala s men will also know that any other result will see the group split wide open especially with the Red Devils away to VfL Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven at home to CSKA Moscow in the last round of fixtures.
Team News & Tactics
Uniteda s mantra for success this season has been to keep it really tight at the back and knick the odd goal upfront and Van Gaal will probably rely on the same strategy this Wednesday night. The defensive solidity seen this season has been down to the two players primarily a David De Gea and Chris Smalling.
The former has been almost unbeatable over the last two and a half seasons and can lay claim to being the best goalkeeper in the world. He is a fantastic shot stopper and has gradually improved on his presence in the box. The latter meanwhile has finally come of age this season and has stepped into the shoes of Rio Ferdinand. While Smalling does not possess the same class as the former England man, he does have the same athleticism and can now regard himself as one of the best young defenders in the world.
In defence, Smalling should be partnered with Daley Blind and flanked by Marcos Rojo & Matteo Darmian. In midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin would be the preferred choices given the injury to Michael Carrick. Upfront Van Gaal has a dilemma on whether to bring back the likes of Wayne Rooney & Anthony Martial who were down with illness & injury respectively in their last game against Watford.
Probable Starting Xl (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin; Mata, Depay, Lingard; Rooney
PSV enter this game knowing fully well that defeat could end their further involvement in this competition but if they can get any kind of result then their position will be strongly enhanced going into the final round of fixtures in a fortnighta s time.
Phillip Cocua s men lie in third place domestically four points behind AFC Ajax but more importantly, they have found their scoring boots recently having netted 14 goals in the last four games. They have also lost only once this season in the Eredivisie but both these records will be put firmly to the test against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
PSV have some injury worries going into this game with Menno Koch still out indefinitely due to an anterior cruciate ligament tear and Jetro Willems & Maxime Lestienne have joined him on the treatment table.
Upfront Gaston Pereiro, Luuk De Jong & Luciano Narsingh can be expected to line up with De Jong in hot form having scored 11 goals in his last 12 games in the Eredivisie.
Probable Starting Xl (4-3-3): Zoet; Arias, Bruma, Moreno, Brenet; Propper, Maher, Guardado; Narsingh, De Jong, Pereiro.
Player to Watch out for
It can be fair to say that the Dutch international has not set the world alight since sealing a move away from PSV in the summer. But it is also plain to see that if he settles into Van Gaala s system and the way of life at Old Trafford he could fulfil his immense potential. Against PSV he would like to show why he has been rated so highly by his peers and coaches.
Manchester United 2-0 PSV Eindhoven
It is extremely difficult to score against this Manchester United side and the home side should have enough firepower to get the three valuable points at Old Trafford.