Manchester United return to action in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening against Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey. United have been a different team in the European competition than they have in the Premier League, beating Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig in the competition, topping the group after two matches. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have not been as good in the league, having just seven points after six matches have been played. There is a lot of overreaction with sections of supporters on social media calling for the manager to be sacked once again – it never seems to take long to upset these supporters.
Patience is a virtue that many don’t seem to know about with supporters expecting United to click their fingers and run riot in every competition. In seven years, the same thing continues to happen with the club which highlights the same things all the time which seems to be appropriated to the manager, despite the problems being similar to those faced by David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. However, some let the facts slip away from the reality as they look for the next casualty that they will back before becoming the manager, then turn against as soon as they are given the job. The word support does not seem to mean the same thing anymore.
United will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday which puts them in dire form at home in the league this season, not winning any of their last six home matches which started last season. Of course, it is a problem if the team cannot win home matches and to many supporters seem to be making too many excuses. When United ran riot over Leipzig last week, that victory was nothing to do with Solskjaer, according to some on Twitter – it was the players that did that. However, the defeat to Arsenal was all down to Solskjaer, nothing to do with the players. Agendas never seem to do anyone any good.
How United have faired against Turkish teams in the UEFA Champions League.
United and Istanbul Basaksehir have not played each other before in the 30-year history of the Turkish club. However, they club has played teams from England with Burnley being the only English club they have met, drawing 0-0 in Istanbul and losing 1-0 at Turf Moor which saw the Lancashire club reach the play-off round of the UEFA Europe League in the 2018/19 season, failing to qualify for the group stages of the competition after losing to Olympiakos. United have met Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, and Bursaspor from Turkey, playing 16 matches in the Europa League and Champions League, winning eight, drawing three and losing five.
United have met Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe six times each and Beşiktaş and Bursaspor two times each. The last Turkish club to face United was Fenerbahçe in the Europa League in the 2016/17 season where they met in the group stages of the competition, at the time welcoming Robin van Persie back to Old Trafford a year after his departure from the club. United won 4-1 at Old Trafford, losing 2-1 in Istanbul. United have played a total of seven times in Istanbul, winning twice, drawing twice and losing three times. IBFK have played twice in the Champions League so far this season, losing twice, so it could well be a chance for United to return to winning ways.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Istanbul Basaksehir in the UEFA Champions League at the Fatih Terim Stadium on Wednesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper has been in good form of late and will be annoyed that he conceded a goal, albeit a penalty against Arsenal on Sunday. United need to hit back from that defeat and create a winning mentality at the club again, which seems to be the case in the cup competition – in which they have not yet lost a match playing four and winning four in the Champions League and the Carabao Cup. United have been better, at times with De Gea in goal this season but he has conceded a few goals in the league, which has seemingly dried up a little since that Spurs defeat. In the Champions League though, United have conceded just one goal and that was an own goal.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles
United played well in a similar formation in Paris, getting the result they needed in their first Champions League match; a 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain a fortnight ago. This will be the their match in the group and a chance for United to get nine points out of nine. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should play in the wing-back roles, of Telles is fit after testing positive for the coronavirus a few weeks ago and returning to training on Monday. Axel Tuanzebe, who also played against PSG should start again with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw with the trio playing as the three defenders in the team, which could solidify United’s defence.
Midfield Three: Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay, Fred
Paul Pogba needs to be dropped as his form has not been the best. When he came off the bench in Paris, it seemed to work for United but against Arsenal, he was laboured and did not seem all that interested in succeeding. For me, Pogba is the weakest link at the club right now. It seems obvious that his heart is not in it and his fans seem to think he still needs to be unlocked. If a world class player needs other players to unlock him, what is the point. No doubt some will treat this criticism as a personal hit against the player, which is not the case. Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Fred should start in midfield in Turkey.
Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial should start up from for United in Turkey. I think they could unlock their opposition and ensure that United get three more points in their Champions League group, looking good to achieve a place in the knockout stages of the competition. Rashford has scored seven goals this season including a hat-trick in the last Champions League match against RB Leipzig with Martial getting a goal too. United could then utilise Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood if they need more attacking inspiration in the match, which may or may not be the case. The Turkish side have not scored a goal in Europe this season, yet!
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams, Teden Mengi; Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri, Nemanja Matic; Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood
Solskjaer will have five substitutes to call upon in the Champions League on Wednesday evening in Turkey which could see the club utilise a number of players in different areas of the pitch. Dean Henderson will probably keep his place on the bench, although he will be expecting a starting role again soon. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams and Teden Mengi could be available. In midfield, Paul pogba, who has been poor of late, Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri and Nemanja Matic could be available, should they all travel with Everton also on the horizon. In attack, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood could reinforce the squad.
Written by John Walker