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Preview: Edinson Cavani to start, boosting Manchester United ahead of Paris Saint-Germain clash?

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Paris Saint-Germain -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League

Parc des Princes, Paris

Tuesday 20 October 2020, KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz Assistants: Pau Cebrián Devís, Roberto del Palomar

Fourth Official: Xavier Estrada Fernandez 

VAR: Juan Martínez Munuera Assistant VAR: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez 

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.

Manchester United: WLWWWL

Newcastle United 4-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 W, Luton Town 3-0 W, Crystal Palace 3-1 L

Paris Saint-Germain: WWWWWL

Nîmes Olympique 4-0 W, Angers SCO 6-1 W, Stade de Reims 2-0 W, OGC Nice 3-0 W, FC Metz 1-0 W, Olympique de Marseille 1-0 L

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford leading with three goals each this season whereas Kylian Mbappe has four goals for PSG.

Manchester United Goals: 3 – Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, 2 – Juan Mata, 1 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny van de Beek, Harry Maguire, Mason Greenwood, Own Goal, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United’s season has been mixed so far with defeats against Crystal Palace (3-1) and Tottenham Hotspur (6-1) and victories against Brighton and Hove Albion (3-2) and Newcastle United (4-1) in the Premier League. However, in the Carabao Cup, United have beaten both Luton Town and Brighton with the same 3-0 scorelines. So far, United have scored 15 goals in six matches, conceding 12 goals. Two clean sheets have been kept (both by Dean Henderson in the Carabao Cup) with David De Gea conceding all 12 goals so far this season. United will be seeking to start with a win in the Champions League after sitting out of the competition last season.

Paris Saint-Germain Goals: 4 – Kylian Mbappé, 2 – Alessandro Florenzi, Julian Draxler, Mauro Icardi, Neymar, 1 – Ángel Di María, Idrissa Gueye, Marquinhos, Pablo Sarabia

PSG started the 2020/21 season with 1-0 Ligue 1 defeats to RC Lens and Marseille. However, they returned to winning ways with five straight victories over Metz (1-0), Lens (3-0), Reims (2-0), Angers (6-1), and Nimes (4-0). If anything, if shows that the PSG are not the strong superpower of European football that they would like to be known as. Many see the French club as one of the best teams in Europe but they play against teams that would struggle in League Two in England and the quality of the better teams in France would be Championship quality at best. United don’t have a long history with PSG but on their day, they can beat them.

Team News: United could be missing two players against PSG with the French side having up to five players on the sidelines through injury.

United look set to be without both Phil Jones (knee) and Axel Tuanzebe (foot/ankle) once again, despite the latter training with his teammates on Sunday, the match might come too soon for him to be a starter but there is a chance that he could be one the bench. Sergio Romero looks set to continue his hiatus from the squad based on the fact that Dean Henderson is now the number two goalkeeper in the squad. Anthony Martial will be able to play against PSG but will miss the Premier League matches against Chelsea and Arsenal and he will be able to face Everton next month. Alex Telles could start against PSG, which would be good to see.

PSG could be without up to five players for the clash with United on Tuesday evening. On Friday, the club gave an update regarding the players on the sidelines and these are the ones that could miss this match; Marquinhos (groin), Marco Verratti (quadriceps), Julian Draxler (hamstring), Maura Icardi (knee), Thilo Kherer (groin). It will not be the end of the world for the French champions as they have more than enough players to field a team – as was shown on Nimes of Friday as they won 4-0 – but in the league they play in, it was hardly a test because for the most part, the quality of the teams in the league are rather poor.

Predicted Starting XI: Cavani to start up front for United, Martial on the left with Greenwood on the right? Rashford could be on the bench providing another option, also resting himself for the clash with Chelsea next weekend in the Premier League.

The victory over Newcastle on Saturday will have relieved a lot of pressure at the club. Harry Maguire’s goal came at the right time and so did the victory. United will be able to fly to Paris with a bit of confidence knowing that they can be the victors once again. Anthony Martial will be fully rested because of his three match suspension, which gives Solskjaer the option of resting another player for this match knowing that a player will at least not have been pushed to the limits ahead of the next match, which is a big one for United. Edinson Cavani could make his debut, providing he has trained to a good standard in the sessions ahead of the match.

Match Prediction: Two matches played between United and PSG with United getting the upper hand last time on that night in Paris. Could they do it again?

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.

Paris Saint-Germain 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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