Manchester United will return to UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday evening as they face French champions Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc de Princes in Paris in the first match of the group stages of the competition. In March 2019, United played at the stadium seeking to overturn a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford at the round of 16 stage of the competition, winning 3-1 with a late penalty which saw United go through on away goals, which was a good feat for United, led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was the interim manager of the club at the time. United were then knocked out by Barcelona in the quarter-final stage.
United reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Europa League last season, exiting against Sevilla, who lifted the trophy at the end of last season. United achieved their Champions League group stage place with a third-placed finish in the Premier League, which was another good feat for Solskjaer, who had seen both good and bad in his tenure at the club by this time. United’s start to the season was not the best, suffering a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on their league opened, beating Brighton and Hove Albion in the second (3-2) but falling to a 1-6 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the third, returning to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Newcastle United.
New summer signings Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani could make their first appearances for United against PSG, which will be good for the pair to step up their fitness levels, although there is a chance both may not be fit to start just yet. Anthony Martial will be eligible to play in this match as his suspension only covers Premier League matches, so Cavani could start against Chelsea next weekend, which will be good for him. If Cavani does make an appearance against his former club in the Champions League, he will be seeking his 50th goal in the competition, which could increase the competitiveness between the two sides.
How United have faired against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League.
United have met PSG twice in the UEFA Champions League, which is also the only two competitive matches the teams have played against each other. The matches were played in the 2018/19 season knockout stages of the competition with United winning one and losing one. United have scored three goals against PSG with the French side scoring three against United. United won one penalty against the French side, scoring it. PSG have not won or scored a penalty against United. Over the two matches, United players were shown a total of seven yellow cards with a red card also being shown. PSG players were shown seven yellow cards.
In the first match between the two sides, which was played at Old Trafford on the 12 February 2019, United were beaten 2-0 and were seemingly in a position whereby they were likely to be out of the competition. Both Presnel Kimpembe (57′) and Kylian Mbappe (60′) scored the goals to sink United and Angel Di Maria, previously a United player, was given a villains reception at the Theatre of Dreams, celebrating his clubs victory. In the second leg on the 6 March 2019, a brace by Romelu Lukaku (2′ and 30′) cancelled out Juan Bernat;s equaliser (12′). It seemed like United were our but Kimpembe gave away a penalty, scored by Marcus Rashford (90+4′) to win the match.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper may not have had a good international break but against Newcastle on Saturday, he performed some top level saves to deny the home side from taking advantage. It is early days to suggest he is getting his form back but the signs are positive right now. United seemed a lot fresher after the International break and that fact that some of the players were able to get a break ahead of the PSG match on Tuesday evening is also positive. De Gea will need to find some top form to deny the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar from scoring at the Parc des Princes, but it is something that he and United’s defence is capable of.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles
United’s defence played a good game against the Magpies on Saturday. One goal was conceded and that was an unfortunate own goal scored by Luke Shaw. Harry Maguire, who has had a tough season so far, seeing red for England last week which piled even more pressure on him, responded with with a captain’s goal against the Magpies and guiding his team to victory. I would like to see him a bit more vocal in the squad, but the improvement is showing and perhaps people should cut him a little but more slack. Aaron Wan-Bissaka scored his first goal for the club and Victor Lindelof played well too. Alex Telles could make his debut against PSG, which will be good.
Midfield Two: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba
Both Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba were rested against he Magpies with Pogba coming on with 21 minutes of normal time remaining with Matic coming on in added time. Both players will be fresh to take on PSG on Tuesday but Pogba will need to find some form. The last time he faced the French champions he was sent off in the 90th minute of the match – the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, missing the 3-1 victory in Paris. He will be able to play at the stadium this time but needs to put in a great performance if he is to start. He was terrible against Spurs. Matic is a reliable player and will need more rest periods throughout the season to remain fit and ready.
Midfield Three: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial
Both Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial (suspended) did not feature against the Magpies on Saturday so will be fit and ready to go on Tuesday evening. The fact that Martial cannot face Chelsea next weekend will mean that Marcus Rashford might be able to have a rest period, albeit on the bench if he is needed against PSG, which might be the case. Bruno Fernandes played a good game against Newcastle, scoring an equaliser which was ruled out by VAR, missing a penalty but scoring the goal to put United ahead again. Those saying that he only scores penalties talk rubbish – he’s created 14 chances in the league so far this season.
Forward: Edinson Cavani
The Uruguayan could make his United debut against the club he spent seven years at, winning six Ligue 1 titles, four Coupe de France trophies, five Coupe de la Ligue trophies and four Trophée des Champions trophies. That is 19 trophies in seven seasons, which is a good feat. The player is experienced and a leader on and off the pitch and could be a god send in the squad, a bit like the way Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the club in his short time as a player at United. Cavani has scored 49 goals in the Champions League in his career and will be seeking to score his 50th goal in the competition, also finding his first for his new club.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Fred, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay; Marcus Rashford, Odion Ighalo
Different to the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup (when it starts), all teams will have up to five substitutions in the Champions League and the Europa League this season. It may not be great but in terms of keeping the squad fresh, it will help as the season draws on, especially as the group stages of the competition will be completed in eight weeks this season. Dean Henderson could be the substitute goalkeeper with Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, and Axel Tuanzebe in defence, if needed. In midfield Juan Mata, Fred, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay with both Marcus Rashford and Odion Ighalo in attack.
Written by John Walker