Manchester United returned to the UEFA Champions League this season after finishing third in the Premier League last season. United last appeared in the competition during the 2018/19 season coming up against Young Boys, Valencia and Juventus in the group stages, finishing second to Juventus and coming up against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, losing 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg. A 3-1 victory in Paris saw United make the quarter-finals, coming unstuck against Barcelona losing 1-0 at Old Trafford and 3-0 at the Nou Camp. United will be relishing this opportunity to play in the elite European competition once more.
This season, United have been drawn against French champions Paris Saint-Germain, Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir and German side RB Leipzig, who finished third in the Bundesliga also reaching the semi-final of the Champions League last season, beaten by eventual runners-up, PSG. It is a tough group for United and one that they should be seeking to get the best out of from the very start as they will need to start strong this season in order to ensure they get out of the group and prolong their participation in the competition this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a strong squad although they are licking their wounds at this moment in time.
Team Background and Pedigree
Paris Saint-Germain were founded on the 12 August 1970 and are the oldest of United’s opposition in the Champions League group this season. The French club are the current Ligue 1 champions despite the 2019/20 season being cut short in France because of the coronavirus pandemic which hit earlier in the year – other European league continued three months later causing a delayed start to the 2020/21 season. PSG have won the Ligue 1 nine times, lifting the title in seven of the last eight seasons. The Parisian club has also won the Coupe de France 13 times, the Coupe de la Ligue nine times and the Trophée des Champions nine times.
In Europe, PSG have not been as successful as they have in France. They were the runners-up in the Champions League last season, losing to Bayern Munich in the final. The only European trophies that PSG has won in the clubs history if the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup during the 1995/96 season, beating Rapid Wien 1-0 in the final, also finishing as runners-up the following season, beaten 1-0 by Barcelona. PSG also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001, beating Brescia 1-1 on away goals after two legs. Aston Villa and Troyes also won that year with all teams advancing to the UEFA Cup not actually winning an honour so to speak.
Manchester United Connections
Former Manchester United players Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera currently play for PSG. Di Maria signed for United in the summer of 2014 for £59.7 million from Real Madrid. He made a total of 32 appearances for the club, scoring four goals and 12 assists. Despite his season at the club being close to abject failure, the player signalled his desire to remain at the club but weeks later was sold for at least a £15.7 million loss. Herrera signed for United in the summer of 2014 with United paying his release clause. He made a total of 189 appearances, scoring 20 goals and 27 assists for the club. Herrera won four trophies with United.
Players To Watch
Kylian Mbappe, 21 is one of the best young forwards in Europe right now and cost PSG €145 million plus a further €35 million in add-ons when he left AS Monaco in the summer of 2017. So far, the Frenchman has made 127 appearances, scoring 92 goals and 55 assists. Neymar, 28 left Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for €222 million and his career has taken a nosedive. He has made 88 appearances, scoring 72 goals and 42 assists. Mitchel Bakker, 20 was recently named in the 20-man shortlist for the Golden Boy award in 2020. He has made 10 appearances and has one assist. Bakker might not be a regular starter but is going to be a top player on day.
Where does Paris Saint-Germain play their home matches?
PSG play their home matches at the Parc des Princes which is located in the south-west of Paris within the 16th arrondissement located near the Stade Jean-Bouin, which is used for rugby and association football matches and the Stade Roland Garros, which is where the French Open (tennis) is held. The Parc des Princes holds a maximum of 47,929 supporters, although the coronavirus pandemic will mean that all matches are played behind closed doors at this time, which is a shame. The venue has been a sporting stadium since 1897, rebuilt in 1932 with the current stadium opened in 1972 and renovated in 1998. PSG are looking to expand to 60,000 seats in the future.
Who manages Paris Saint-Germain?
Thomas Tuchel is the manager of PSG and has been since May 2018 since he replaced Unai Emery. Tuchel was born in Krumbach, West Germany on the 29 August 1973, making him 47. He played youth football for TSV Krumbach and FC Augsburg. Tuchel played for Stuttgarter Kickers and SSV Ulm, finishing his career in 1998. Tuchel began coaching in 2000 with VfB Stuttgart leaving the club to manage FC Augsburg II for the 2007/08 season. He managed Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund, winning the DFB-Pokal. At PSG he was won two Ligue 1 titles, one Coupe de France, one Coupe de la Ligue and two Trophée des Champions.
When will the matches against Paris Saint-Germain be played, and where?
The opening Champions League match this season will see United travel to France to face PSG at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday 20 October 2020 with the match kicking off at 20:00 BST. It is expected to be an exciting match as former PSG striker Edinson Cavani could make his debut for United after his deadline day move to the club just a fortnight before. The fixture at Old Trafford will be played on Wednesday 2 December 2020, kicking off at 20:00 GMT. This will be the penultimate match of the group stage which should see one or both of these sides secure their place in the latter stages of the competition, or at least set the footing for that to happen in the last match.
Written by John Walker