Manchester United will be hoping to script a memorable comeback tale when they travel to Parc des Princes to face PSG in the UEFA Champions League.
The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg fixtures will continue on Wednesday, when two more quarter-finalists will be revealed. The big match of this week will see the second iteration of PSG vs Manchester United at Parc des Princes, with the hosts holding all the aces in the tie.
PSG made it to the Last 16 stage by winning a tough Group C ahead of Liverpool and Napoli. Manchester United, on the other hand, made it to the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League on the back of a second-placed finish in Group H, behind Juventus, although they spurned the chance to top the group on the final matchday.
PSG have been in rampant form over the last one month, winning eight straight games, including the first leg at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Their latest success saw Les Parisiens come back from a goal down to beat Caen 2-1 that saw them maintain their 17-point lead atop the Ligue 1 table.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have continued their unbeaten domestic run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the only blemish coming against the Parisian giants last month. The Red Devils entered the top four in the Premier League this past weekend following their 3-2 win over Southampton.
The first leg, played at Old Trafford last month, saw PSG coasting to a 2-0 win, with Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe scoring for the visitors. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
In addition to the fantastic run of results, Thomas Tuchel has also seen the bill of health reduce significantly. Ahead of the visit of Manchester United on Wednesday, the PSG boss is only likely to be without one first-team player, with Neymar still nursing his foot injury.
The good news is that Edinson Cavani has returned to training after recovering from the hip injury that has kept him out for nearly a month. But, the game might have come too soon for the Uruguayan striker, who is believed to be still some way off being fully match fit.
Kylian Mbappe, who has been in fine form all through the season, should thus, lead the line for PSG once again, with the French prodigy looking to torment the Manchester United defence. Another player who will be keen on troubling the opposition backline will be Angel Di Maria.
The former Manchester United man was unaffected by a raucous Old Trafford crowd in the first leg, even going as far as taunting the fans who had booed him all night. Di Maria will be eager to repeat his heroics once again on Wednesday, while on the opposite flank, Dani Alves is likely to pose a threat with his creative abilities.
In midfield, Marquinhos will have a much easier job playing the Anchor Man role, with Paul Pogba suspended. This time around, the Brazilian will have the task of keeping a lid on the outputs of Fred and Andreas Pereira, while Marco Verratti will be aiming to pull the strings from the middle of the park.
At the back, Thiago Silva will don the armband once again for PSG, and will be looking to keep the in-form Romelu Lukaku quiet, with Presnel Kimpembe being his partner once again. Juan Bernat and Thilo Kehrer should complete the backline that is likely to provide cover to Gianluigi Buffon.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Verratti, Marquinhos; Alves, Draxler, Di Maria; Mbappe
Unlike his counterpart in the PSG dugout, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has an injury-ravaged squad at his disposal, with as many as nine players on the treatment table. The biggest absentee for Manchester United though, will be midfield maestro Paul Pogba, who is suspended after being sent off in the first leg.
In addition to Pogba, the likes of Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are all unavailable due to injuries that will keep almost all of them out for the rest of the month.
With the Manchester United caretaker boss down to bare bones in just about every department, academy quintet Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner have travelled with the squad, with one or two of this group likely to be afforded a few minutes against PSG, providing them some fantastic exposure on the European stage.
Most of the players though, pick themselves, owing to the aforementioned problem caused by the absence of the ten players. In attack, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford will have all the onus on them to inspire what looks like an unlikely result, with Diogo Dalot starting on the right wing.
In midfield, Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay pick themselves. While Fred will need to be more composed on the ball than he has been lately, Pereira will be hoping to continue in the same vein as this past weekend, when his goal proved to be the catalyst of the comeback win over Southampton. McTominay will be the holding midfielder once again.
At the back, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw ought to be the two full-backs, while Victor Lindelof is a certain starter at the heart of the defence. Chris Smalling has done well since returning from injury and should partner Lindelof, especially with Eric Bailly being underwhelming in the first leg. In goal, there is no looking past David de Gea.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Pereira, McTominay, Fred; Dalot, Lukaku, Rashford
- No club has ever progressed to the next round of the UEFA Champions League after losing the first leg of a knockout match at home by two or more goals (34 previous cases).
- Paris Saint-Germain have lost just one of their last 16 UEFA Champions League games at home (W10 D5), but that defeat came in the Round of 16 last season against Real Madrid (1-2).
- None of the last six English sides to face PSG at Parc des Princes have won. In fact, the only English team to prevail away from home versus PSG were Chelsea in September 2004 (3-0).
- Manchester United have won only one of their last 10 UEFA Champions League knockout games (D3 L6), beating Olympiakos in March 2014 (3-0 at Old Trafford). Their last away win in the knockout stages came eight years ago against Schalke (2-0), in April 2011.
- Kylian Mbappe has found the net in six of his seven Champions League appearances against British clubs (6 goals in total). He has scored 14 goals in the Champions League; two more than any other player has netted as an under-21 player in the history of the competition (Karim Benzema is the next best with 12 goals).
Player to Watch
Let’s be honest. PSG absolutely slammed Manchester United in the first leg, despite the absence of two star players. While the likes of Ashley Young and Luke Shaw were expected to have their moments of struggle, it was a rare failure from Victor Lindelof that would have left many fans surprised.
While all is not lost for United, they need to be as solid as they have ever been this season in order to script a fine comeback tale. In order to do so, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs Victor Lindelof at his very best and if the Swede manages to do so, who knows, a shock away win might just be on the cards. The biggest game of his career beckons for Lindelof.
PSG 2-1 Manchester United
The fabled comeback kings of English football have made it a habit to do the impossible. But, this seems to be a mountain that is too steep to climb for Manchester United, especially with so many pivotal players, most prominently Paul Pogba, being unavailable for the Round of 16 second leg.
PSG, on the other hand, have been anything but happy campers in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League. But, with Kylian Mbappe being in such menacing touch lately, it is hard to look past them for the second leg either, although one can expect United to put up a better fight on Wednesday.
The second leg might just be more keenly contested over both the halves, unlike the game at Old Trafford. But, The Hard Tackle predicts PSG to prevail, sending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. packing from Europe’s premier club competition at the Last 16 stage.