Manchester United will begin their 2018-19 UEFA Champions League campaign against debutants BSC Young Boys on Wednesday night.
English heavyweights Manchester United will go head to head against champions of Switzerland BSC Young Boys in their first Group H encounter of the UEFA Champions League at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.
Having crashed out in the round of 16 stages against Sevilla in a disappointing manner last season, Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will be aiming to progress further this time out. And with difficult fixtures coming up against Juventus and Valencia in the group, United will be looking to take the maximum points away from their opening game.
The 20-time English champions come into Wednesday’s game on the back of consecutive victories against Burnley and Watford in the Premier League. And Mourinho will be hoping that his side are able to build on the momentum and make it three wins in a row.
Wednesday will mark a historic occasion in BSC Young Boys’ history, as they will be making their first ever appearance in the Champions League group stages. Having won their first league title in 32 years last season, the Swiss capital club beat Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb in the playoffs to make it to the group stages of Europe’s premier footballing event.
Young Boys lost coach Adi Hutter to Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer, but they have carried on where they left off last season under new boss Gerardo Seoane. Perched at the top of the Swiss top-flight with six wins in six games, they head into the midweek encounter high on confidence following their 3-2 extra-time win over FC Schaffhausen in a cup tie at the weekend.
Team News & Tactics
BSC Young Boys
Midfielders Jordan Lotomba and Sandro Lauper are set to miss out for the Swiss champions with knee and ankle problems respectively, while there are doubts over the availability of Pedro Teixeira and Gregory Wüthrich as well. However, Serbian winger Miralem Sulejmani is in line to make his first start after returning from a concussion he suffered earlier in the season.
Seoane sets his team up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation and they will come at United with vigour and attacking intent – the fact that they have already scored 19 goals in 6 league games indicates as much. David von Ballmoos is the preferred choice between the sticks for the club and will return to the starting XI, after sitting out of the cup tie at the weekend.
Former Newcastle United defender Kevin Mbabu, who recently made his international debut for Switzerland, will resume duties at right-back with Loris Benito set to slot in on the opposite side. Mohamed Aly Camara will start in the heart of the defence in the absence of Wüthrich and will be partnered by Steve von Bergen. Going up against a quality attack like United will be a stern test for the back four.
Sekou Sanogo and Djibril Sow should start in the middle of the park and look to help the team out in both halves of the pitch. The fit-again Sulejmani should start out on the left-flank and will be a major threat, having scored three and set up five more goals this term. Christian Fassnacht, who scored twice in their last league match, will slot in on the right-side of the midfield.
Upfront, former PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau will be a major threat to the United defence, having already bagged seven goals this season. Support will be provided by 24-year old Ivorian Roger Assale.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): von Ballmoos; Mbabu, von Bergen, Camara, Benito; Fassnacht, Sanogo, Sow, Suljemani; Hoarau, Assale;
Luke Shaw has travelled with the squad after sitting out of the weekend game against Watford due to an injury he picked up on international duty. Marcus Rashford returns too, having missed out in the last match due to suspension, while new signing Diogo Dalot is also part of the squad.
Phil Jones remains out with an injury, while Marcos Rojo is also unavailable as he struggles for match fitness. Antonio Valencia has not travelled with the rest of the squad on Tuesday morning and is set to sit this one out.
After his heroics against Watford at the weekend, David De Gea will look to continue where he left off between the sticks for Manchester United. With Valencia unavailable, there is a good chance that Dalot could be set for his debut at right-back on Wednesday night, while Shaw will return to the starting XI on the left-side. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will be retained as the two centre-backs.
With Marouane Fellaini recently recovering from an injury, he is likely to be given a breather with summer signing Fred in line to start instead. Nemanja Matic is a guaranteed starter for the Red Devils, while the third midfield slot will be taken up by Paul Pogba, who is likely to lead the side in the absence of Valencia.
Marcus Rashford should start out on the left-flank after a fruitful international break with England with Alexis Sanchez set to be axed. Juan Mata may be in for a recall to the starting lineup, out on the right-side in place of Jesse Lingard. Spearheading the attack for the Red Devils in Bern will be in-form striker Romelu Lukaku.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Rashford;
- Manchester United have lost only three of their last 20 European matches (W13, D4).
- BSC Young Boys have won only two of their last 10 European encounters (D4, L4)
- The midweek clash will represent the very first competitive meeting between United and Young Boys.
- The two clubs were drawn against each other in 1958-59 but Young Boys were given a bye to the next round after officials ruled against United’s participation. The sides ended up playing home and away friendlies, each winning their respective home games.
- Against English teams, YB have won only one of their last six encounters, which was a 3-2 home win over Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of a qualifier for the 2010-11 tournament.
- Young Boys will be only the second club from Switzerland to face United in European competition after FC Basel, against whom the Red Devils have a mixed record having won two, drawn two and lost two games each.
Player to watch
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Coming on the back of an impressive international break with Belgium, Lukaku put in another all-round display this past weekend against Watford, capping it off with a goal – his fourth of the season in five Premier League games. His pace, power and the ability to hold up the ball at the top will once again be key for Mourinho’s men when they travel to Switzerland.
Lukaku has fond memories of playing against Young Boys, having grabbed a hat-trick the last time he faced them, playing for Everton at the time, in February 2015. And he will be aiming to repeat his heroics from three years ago for United this time around.
BSC Young Boys 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester United come into the game as overwhelming favourites against the Champions League newcomers following back to back victories in the Premier League. But the Red Devils should take Young Boys lightly at their own peril. The Swiss champions have made a blistering start to the campaign, winning nine of their ten games across all competitions so far in the 2018-19 term.
However, considering that they played for 120 minutes in the weekend cup game, fatigue might come into the picture. Irrespective of that, the home team will have a go at Mourinho’s men, but United have enough quality to see off the challenge and kick off their European campaign with three points.