Manchester United will hope to begin their UEFA Champions League campaign on a strong note when they take on BSC Young Boys on Tuesday.
The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League is here, with the group stage set to kick off on Tuesday, as teams from Groups EH take the field on Matchday 1. Manchester United begin their campaign away from home, as they lock horns with BSC Young Boys at the Wankdorf Stadium.
BSC BSC Young Boys began their European campaign at the second qualification round before going on to beat Slovan Bratislava, CFR Cluj and Ferencvaros to book their place in the group stage. At domestic level, the Swiss champions have made a slow start to the season, winning just two of their opening five fixtures, although their most recent outing was a 4-0 rout of FC Zurich.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have played just four games this season, winning three of them to become the early leaders in the Premier League. The biggest talking point surrounding the Red Devils, who reached the UEFA Champions League by finishing second in the English top-flight, has been the big return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored twice on debut against Newcastle United.
Manchester United have won both of their meetings with Young Boys so far, beating them 1-0 and 3-0 in the Champions League back in 2018. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
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BSC Young Boys
Cédric Zesiger hat Glück im Unglück gehabt: Er zog sich eine Fuss- und eine Knochenprellung im Knie zu. Wie lange er ausfallen wird, hängt vom Heilungsverlauf und den Schmerzen ab. Der Einsatz gegen Manchester United ist fraglich.https://t.co/I09QgoqIVp#BSCYB pic.twitter.com/uDNv6GYLmS
— BSC YOUNG BOYS (@BSC_YB) September 12, 2021
David Wagner has a number of fitness concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Tuesday, the BSC Young Boys manager will have to make do without as many as six first-team players.
The good news is that just about each of those players will be back in action before the end of the month. However, the Manchester United game has come too soon for them. The aforementioned players are Fabian Lustenberger (achilles), Cedric Zesiger (foot), Esteban Petignat (knee), Nico Maier (match fitness), Joel Monteiro (knee) and Jean Pierre Nsame (muscle injury).
Despite the absence of half a dozen players, Wagner has enough cover in his ranks to name a strong side that could leave Manchester United frustrated for stretched periods. David von Ballmoos will be the man in goal for Young Boys, who will line up in a 4-4-2 formation on Tuesday.
At the heart of the Young Boys defence, Mohamed Camara and Nicolas Burgy ought to pair up, with Silvan Hefti and Ulisses Garcia being the two full-backs. Michel Aebischer and Vincent Sierro will have the onus on them to keep things tight in the middle of the park, stifling Bruno Fernandes in particular during Manchester United’s build-up play.
The key man for Young Boys, though, will be Christian Fassnacht, who will provide the creative impetus when the opportunities present themselves. Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu will be the other wide midfielder, with the duo looking to supplement Meschack Elia and Jordan Siebatcheu, who will form the strike partnership against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): von Ballmoos; Hefti, Camara, Burgy, Garcia; Fassnacht, Sierro, Aebischer, Ngamaleu; Elia, Siebatcheu
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not have a fresh roster issue to contend with ahead of the trip to the Wankdorf Stadium. Against Young Boys on Tuesday, the Manchester United manager will have to make do without five first-team players.
The likes of Dean Henderson (match fitness), Alex Telles (ankle), Scott McTominay (groin) and Marcus Rashford (shoulders) all miss out and will only be back after a while. In addition, Solskjaer has also been sweating over the fitness of Edinson Cavani, who is recovering from a knock.
With Cavani not fit enough to travel and Anthony Martial not in favour at the moment, it goes without saying that Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the line once again for Manchester United, making his second European debut for the club.
Bruno Fernandes will once again play off of Ronaldo, with Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho being the two wide men for Manchester United. That means Paul Pogba will once again be a part of the midfield double pivot, although he is likely to spend more time higher up the pitch than in the middle.
Fred is expected to be Pogba’s midfield partner, with the Brazilian back in contention after being left out against Newcastle United amid confusion over the status of his suspension. At the back, Manchester United ought to be unchanged, with Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane forming the central defensive partnership while Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be the two full-backs.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
- BSC Young Boys have lost each of their last two UEFA Champions League meetings with Manchester United, back in the group stage of the 2018/19 season.
- Manchester United have won 50 percent of their Champions League games against Swiss opposition (W4 D2 L2), with each of their games coming in the group stage.
- In European competitions, Young Boys have only won one of their eight matches against English opponents (D1 L6), beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the Champions League play-offs in August 2010.
- Young Boys have previously featured in the Champions League just once, finishing bottom of their group in the 2018/19 season.
- Manchester United have lost their first match of the season in the UEFA Champions League in just one of their last 21 campaigns (W13 D7), losing 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven in 2015/16.
Player to Watch
While all eyes will once again be on Cristiano Ronaldo, one player whose performance will be under the spotlight is Jadon Sancho. The English international has not really hit the ground running early on in his stint with Manchester United, with the settling in period being rather slow.
Having not participated in pre-season due to his involvement with England at UEFA Euro 2020, it is not too surprising that Sancho is off the pace. However, the game against Young Boys will give him a chance to regroup and deliver the goods against a much less fancied opponent. Will Sancho finally make his mark?
BSC Young Boys 0-2 Manchester United
Despite being a rather unheralded name in the UEFA Champions League, BSC Young Boys are not a team to be taken lightly. And after choking in the second half of their group stage campaign last season, Manchester United of all teams will know that they will need to be at their very best to get all three points.
Fortunately for them, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be in the mood after returning to Old Trafford while Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood are all in top form. Jadon Sancho, though, could well start clicking from this game while at the back, the brain-fade should be kept at bay, thereby paving the way for a 2-0 win to make a solid start to the Champions League campaign.