Manchester United will be looking to book one of the two knockout places available from Group H of the UEFA Champions League when they face PSG on Wednesday.
Unlike their rocky start to the 2020/21 Premier League, Manchester United have been performing well in the Champions League this season, having pocketed important wins against RB Leipzig and away at PSG. However, the defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir somehow blew the group wide open, with three teams in with a real chance of qualifying to the knockout phase.
United do have a superior Group Difference, boasting a positive difference of 8 compared to Leipzig’s -3 and PSG’s +1. But, they would need a draw on Wednesday to virtually secure a place. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer though, would want his team to top Group H to have a relatively easier draw in the Round of 16.
PSG have had a tumultuous domestic campaign and their 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig away in Group H has the group evenly poised. A win over Manchester United becomes almost a necessity to ensure their qualification is still in their own hands, especially with the French giants set to face Istanbul Basaksehir at home on the final matchday.
Manchester United will be brimming with confidence after a completing a comeback from 2-0 down at Southampton during the weekend, while PSG dropped two points again, this time in a 2-2 draw against Bordeaux.
Team News & Tactics
Scott McTominay is back in training and so is Paul Pogba but only the Scottish international is likely to be in contention to start on Wednesday. Anthony Martial missed the Southampton match and hasn’t trained much since, putting his availability in doubt.
Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw are also making a return but are unlikely to feature against PSG. Axel Tuanzebe is the final one unavailable, with the academy graduate having to serve his suspension.
David de Gea returned to training but is likely to be rested during the packed schedule to give Dean Henderson a start. The back four from the weekend should be retained, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Alex Telles all likely to start.
In midfield, Fred and Scott McTominay are likely to reprise their partnership from their last match against PSG. Donny van de Beek has impressed as the third midfielder and should start ahead of Nemanja Matic and the still unfit Paul Pogba.
Bruno Fernandes will start in the hole but it is Martial’s fitness that Ole will be sweating over. Edinson Cavani was the hero for Manchester United against Southampton during the weekend and should be eager to start against his former club on Wednesday.
Marcus Rashford was the hero during the meetings between the two teams and should start. However, the England international must improve on his decision-making after the lack of same was highlighted during the 3-2 win over Southampton.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Telles; Fred, McTominay, van de Beek; Fernandes; Cavani, Rashford
Thomas Tuchel is struggling with multiple first-team injuries. However, there is good news, with Marquinhos and Neymar both in contention to start against Manchester United while Presnel Kimpembe and Idrissa Gueye are available again after serving their respective suspensions.
The likes of Juan Bernat, Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia are certain absentees, with the game to come a bit early for Layvin Kurzawa.
Keylor Navas should be in goal, with the likes of Alessandro Florenzi, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe and Mitchel Bakker to comprise the back four for PSG. The 20-year-old youngster has stepped up for the French giants and will come in handy once again during this injury crisis.
Ander Herrera will be eager to start against his former side and should partner Italian international Marco Verratti. Marquinhos and Danilo Pereira have both swapped positions between midfield and defence. But, we should ideally see the Portuguese international come into the midfield, with the Brazilian’s pace necessary to tackle Cavani and Rashford.
Another former Manchester United star will likely feature for PSG, with Tuchel looking to start Angel Di Maria on the right. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar should both start in attack as PSG look for a win on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Verratti, Pereira, Herrera; Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar
1. PSG have made it into the knockout phase for 8 UEFA Champions League seasons in a row.
2. PSG have lost their last two home games in all competitions.
3. The French giants have received a total of 3 red cards in their last two home games in all competitions.
4. Manchester United have conceded just twice in the last five home games combined in all competitions.
5. Marcus Rashford is leading the scoring charts in the 2020/21 Champions League, with 5 goals in 4 appearances so far.
Player to Watch
Manchester United have had defensive issues all throughout the 2020/21 season and Victor Lindelof has persevered through his injuries and knocks to be present whenever needed. However, the Iceman will now be up against one of the deadliest trios in European club football on Wednesday.
Lindelof will need to tap into every bit of his defensive nous to neutralize and tackle the threat posed by Di Maria, Mbappe and Neymar. The Swedish international has to be on the lookout for Verratti’s piercing balls from midfield as well along with the likes of Marquinhos on set-pieces.
Another good game from Lindelof and he will solidify his position as someone who can step up and be the big-game man.
Manchester United 3-3 PSG
This match has all the makings of a real entertainer. Manchester United come into the match with loads of confidence and one eye on qualification into the knockout phase. For PSG, a loss might just be curtains on their hopes to mount another challenge for the Champions League trophy after being one step away from touching it last season.
A desperate PSG will come out fighting, especially with Neymar, Mbappe and di Maria all likely to start. Manchester United will look to absorb pressure while depending on the midfielders to fight for the second balls and not allow the PSG players to navigate through the middle of the park.
United will depend on van de Beek and Fernandes to provide service to Cavani and Rashford, with Ole hoping the two forwards can strike some chemistry between themselves after being somewhat off against Southampton.