What We Learned: Creativity is an issue when certain players are not on the pitch

Manchester United were defeated 1-0 by a resurgent Basel side in the UEFA Champions League at the St Jakob Stadium in Basel on Wednesday evening. United just needed a point to qualify for the round of 16, but that was not meant to be. United should have been 5-0 up at the end of the first half, Marouane Fellaini had the chance to score three times, striking the post on one occasion. United fell on their own sword as Basel scored a late goal from close-range, meaning United would need to win or draw at home to CSKA Moscow. If United lost the match, losing by less than five goals would keep them in the competition, losing to six goals and Basel beating Benfica will knock them out of the UEFA Champions League, which is something the Liverpool supporters will be hoping for.

Jose Mourinho took Paul Pogba off in the 66th minute of the match, which resulted in the team’s creativity leaving the pitch too. United need to find a way to not rely too heavily on the Frenchman, with the January transfer window being a time United could find the extra creativity needed or the manager could make sure his side put in the effort to create, instead of relying on one particular player, which was the case in Basel. It is likely that United will reach the round of 16, but it will be the start of a tough month for United as they play Arsenal away on the 3rd December, then face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, then five days later face Manchester City at Old Trafford in the first Manchester derby of the season.

Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind are not the right options for full-back

Manchester United need fullbacks who can maraud up and down the wing, defend when needed and attack when needed. Defensively, Matteo Darmian played well for United, but on the attack, his crosses and passes were not good enough. Daley Blind was bullied at times, and often left exposed on the left. For United to be weak in these positions will ensure they fall at the first hurdle when the big teams come into contention. United will play Arsenal and Manchester City in December, both will be tough matches and having either of these on the flank, in defensive positions will be tough to get anything from either match. Blind has the ability to play in the centre of defence, as a ballplayer, or even in midfield, but other players stand in his way. Darmian can play on the left, but he offers the same as he does on the right.

Paul Pogba is a great player, but he cannot play all the time for entire matches

Paul Pogba, for me, was the Man of the Match against both Newcastle United and Basel. Inspiring United to create, mostly done by him, and to break forward and aim to get matches in the bag as early, which against Basel could have been done in the first half alone, United falling to Basel dominating in the second half against a United team not able to take the lead, or string some creativity together. Pogba cannot be relied upon by his teammates as injury or fatigue will mean he cannot be their scapegoat. Pogba is a great player and the ABU’s are seeing why United paid £89 million for him. What they cannot see though, is United winning matches without this player being run to the ground. Some of Pogba’s teammates need to stand up and be counted as there is no place for passengers at Manchester United.

Players need to be creative and rely on themselves to win matches, not a teammate

Manchester United have always been known for having creative players with the ability to win matches on their own, but that does not mean they did it on their own. A team is not one person, in this sport, it is eleven who play at one time – with the option for three other players to get involved in the game. In the years gone by, United have had some great players who have had the ability to create something and even win the game on their own. Sunday marks 25 years since Eric Cantona signed for United and he is one of the players who could create something from nothing and win a match on his own, figuratively speaking, of course. United have not had any of these players for years and could do with so many more of them.


Manchester United and Jose Mourinho need to find something to get their season up and running. Manchester City are dominating, being praised by every pundit and journalist out there – they have played well this season, but the sheer fact that no other team in England is being compared to them and they are the first team, supposedly, in the league to play this swashbuckling style of football, Manchester United never did this, it makes me want to vomit. You would think Manchester City have all the history of United, winning 20 league titles, three European Cups and so on. Thing is, they don’t. United have let City take the driving seat in the five years which will have passed before the end of the season that Sir Alex Ferguson retired and it is time United stood up and were counted as the team they long to be, but clearly do not have the players with than mentality, which needs to change. Either the mentality is adopted, or the passengers are dropped off.

Ratings: Paul Pogba the Man of the Match as the creativity disappeared when he left the pitch

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Basel in the UEFA Champions League despite United dominating the first half with many chances, three fell to Marouane Fellaini alone. United could have confirmed their place in the knockout stages, but will now have to go all out for the point, or victory over CSKA Moscow in the final group stage match, which is sandwiched between a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

United could have easily been 5-0 up at the end of the first half, but none of the chances created made their mark on goal. It was an unlucky position for United to be in, but they still had the second half to make the difference and despite the odd chance, it was Basel who were dominating the half. You can see why no English team has ever kept a clean sheet at the St Jakob Stadium. It is not the end of the world though, it just means that United will have to dig deep for three matches in a row in the busy nine match run of December.

Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard (Rashford 64′), Pogba (Matic 66′), Martial (Ibrahimovic 74′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Pereira; Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay

Bookings: Matteo Darmian 83′

Manchester United

22 Sergio Romero

The Argentinian number one played well and did what he needed to do. His alertness was top-notch as he was there whenever he had something to do. Was unlucky to conceded a late goal, which United deserved as they were unable to kill the game in the first half when they had plenty of chances.


Matteo Darmian

Defensively, Darmian did what he needed to do but when he got forward, his delivery was sloppy which shows that United need a full back with the ability to defend and attack.


Chris Smalling

The (omitted) England player was dilligent throughout the game, although he could have done more to close doan Lang, who scored the winning goal.


16 Marcos Rojo

The Argentinian was solid after his return from a seven month absence with a knee injury. He had the chance to score, hitting the post with a long-range effort. Good to have him back as another option.


17 Daley Blind

He's not the left-back United need. Left exposed at times and was easily bullied by Basel. His deliveries from set-pieces were the highlight of the game for him. Should have done so much better.


21 Ander Herrera

In the first half, Herrera had a good game. His take-down was applauded by Mourinho and he was dilligent throughout but could have got involved more in the second half. After Pogba left the pitch, United's creativity was not present.


27 Marouane Fellaini

Had the chance to score a hat-trick of headers in the first half with United dominating the game. After that, his influence in the game was non-existent.


14 Jesse Lingard

On his 100th appearance for United, he covered much of the pitch but never really got a hold on the game. Replaced by Rashford on the 64th minute.


6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman was the Man of the Match for United again. He set up Lukaku early in the game, but nothing came of the attempt. When Pogba left the pitch, the creativity went with him, which should not have been the case. United rely on Pogba too much. There are passengers in this team and that needs to change.


9 Anthony Martial

Had a lively match. Got amongst the chances and created some of his own. The cross to Fellaini which clipped the post, then he was denied by the goalkeeper himself.


Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian put in the effort but could not find that goal. He had the chance one-on-one with the keeper, but failed to find the back of the net.



10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Lingard 64'. Put in the effort, could have scored but his shot was just wide. Tried.


31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Pogba 66'. Did what he needed to do. A lack of creativity by the team after Pogba left stunted United and left them getting what they deserved.


10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Replaced Martial 74'. Got involved in the game. Had a combined effort with Lukaku, but missed his shot. Early days to write him off.


Report: Manchester United lose in Basel with all to play for against CSKA Moscow

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Basel in the UEFA Champions League despite United dominating the first half with many chances, three fell to Marouane Fellaini alone. United could have confirmed their place in the knockout stages, but will now have to go all out for the point, or victory over CSKA Moscow in the final group stage match, which is sandwiched between a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the team which started against Newcastle United on Saturday. Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, and Jesse Lingard all returned to the starting XI with Lingard making his 100th appearance for United. Paul Pogba captained the side whilst Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku were the only players to face both Newcastle and Basel.

United started well against the Swiss side, getting forward and pressuring their opposition. In the seventh minute if the match, Mohamed Elyounoussi burst into the United box but the defence thwarted his chance to create something for the home side. United had the chance to take first blood in the 12th minute of the match after Marouane Fellaini, on his birthday, aimed his headed shot on target, which was going in at the far post only for the effort to be cleared before it had crossed the line.

United won a free-kick in the 16th minute of the match, which Daley Blind took. Fellaini made the connection with his head but could not direct it on target with Basel regaining possession of the ball. United were dominating the match, as they have every other in the UEFA Champions League this season, and beyond, but were still seeking that opening goal of the evening, having a taste of it a few times in the opening twenty minutes of the game.

In the 28th minute of the match, Lingard, on his 100th appearances for United, unleashed his effort from just outside of the penalty area but it was deflected wide by Basel resulting in a corner, which threatened but nothing became of it. 90 seconds later, United had won another corner, something the Basel players were finding hard to deal with, despite giving them away so often in this match. United won a free-kick after Pogba was fouled at the edge of the Basel area with Pogba and Blind standing over the ball – both wanting it.

Pogba took the free-kick, but could not find the accuracy with his effort heading over the crossbar. United had many chances to break the deadlock after the free-kick, with Fellaini having the opportunity to score a hat-trick himself. In the 35th minute, Lingard threaded a great pass in behind the Basel defence which released Matteo Darmian into a great crossing position. The Italian put far too much on the cross which Blind unable to keep the ball in play.

A minute later, Anthony Martial spun away from Manuel Akanji and crossed the ball low in the near-post area with Lingard lurking in the area. Marek Suchy was alert to the danger so he hacked the ball out of the danger area. United broke forward again minutes later, which left Basel’s defence out of position and running back to their area. Elyounoussi tripped Lingard which won United a free-kick. Blind took the free-kick, putting it into the Basel area but it was dealt with before it reached Fellaini.

United had an effort off the post in the 42nd minute of the match through Fellaini after Martial cut in off the flank and floated a delightful ball into the Belgian. United were banging on the door and Basel would need to stand firm to take this into the break without conceding. In the 44th minute, Martial burst forward from deep, fought against two Basel defenders and got away before he reached the six-yard box where Tomas Vaclik tipped his effort behind.

In the last minute of the game, United had another chance which came off the crossbar after Marcos Rojo, making his return from seven months out with a knee injury, had the audacious striker from 30-yards, catching it well. The ball took a deflection off Suchy before clattering the crossbar. United should have been a few goals to the good in that half, ending it still seeking that opening goal. United will be confident of their position in the round of 16, needing a point to get there, which is currently in the bag.

At the start of the second half there were no changes from either manager. Basel created the opportunity to threaten United at the start of the half with Michael Lang whipping his cross into the United area where Elyounoussi got ahead of Chris Smalling coming close to burying his effort past Sergio Romero. United had a good chance at the other end of the pitch with Martial crossing for Romelu Lukaku but he could not keep the resulting header down.

Basel created another opportunity, pushing United deep into their own half. Serey Die put in a thundering shot from outside of the box, Romero made the dive but the attempt was wide of the target. Mourinho sent some substitutes out to warm up with Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay – seemingly a change on the cards. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent to warm up moments later, an obvious sign Mourinho had something on the cards with his team still unable to score.

In the 56th minute of the match, Die had the ball, having taken the game by the scruff of the neck and created something for Renato Steffen, who picked up the ball inside the United half registering Basel’s second shot on target this evening but Romero was partial to the ball, thwarting the effort. Basel won a corner after Fellaini was adjudged to commit a foul, the free-kick was taken, United tried to clear it with Basel picking up the ball and making a shot on goal, which Romero saved. Moments later, another effort was made – wide.

Mourinho made a change in the 64th minute of the match with Jesse Lingard being replaced by Marcus Rashford – keeping his run of playing in every Manchester United match this season, all 20 so far. Just after the change, Pogba had a shot on target, which Vaclik saved and thwarted United’s chance of opening the scoring. Mourinho made his second change of the evening with Paul Pogba being replaced by Nemanja Matic in the 66th minute.

Basel started to create opportunities after the double substitution Mourinho made which two shots in quick succession with Lang’s headed effort careering off the bar after he got the better of Blind then Elyounoussi followed that up with a low drive which called Romero into another diving save. United would need to take charge of this fixture, or it could be that Basel found the goal they craved which would leave United having to wait until the sixth match in just under a fortnight to decide their fate in the competition.

Basel nearly got a penalty, or so they had wished after it seemed like Rojo had taken a player down in the box, which after the reply looked more like a dive. Ibrahimovic was readying himself for his second appearance in seven months. In the 72nd minute, Basel were pushing for the elusive goal and Rojo put in a fine last-ditch tackle to deny the goalscoring opportunity. United, through Martial, gained some ground with some good interplay with Herrera and Rashford on the edge of the box, the latter having a shot, which was just wide.

In the 74th minute of the match, Martial made way for Ibrahimovic with United still seeking that goal to win them the match. In the 77th minute, Die had a chance to score a stunning goal which forced Romero to make a diving save, doing just that but with Die injuring himself. Basel got a corner, with Die going off for treatment, with United making the clearance, then Basel breaking forward and being flagged for offside, free-kick to United.

In the 79th minute of the match, Die had to be stretchered off and replaced by Alexander Fransson. Matic was deemed to have fouled Elyounoussi at the edge of United’s box with five minutes remaining, the Norwegian falling to the ground holding his face. The referee gave nothing and play was continued to a point. The player suggested Matic elbowed him, when it was just a forearm, not put backwards with much menace. Play acting at its best by Elyounoussi.

In the 88th minute, Lukaku and Ibrahimovic combined dangerously but the Swede could not find the target with his effort. At the other end of the pitch, Basel scored what could be the winner in the 89th minute of the match through Lang, who scored from close-range. United had it all in the bag to qualify tonight, but this will mean they have to ensure victory or a draw over CSKA Moscow to earn a knockout stage place – which will be sandwiched between a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard (Rashford 64′), Pogba (Matic 66′), Martial (Ibrahimovic 74′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Pereira; Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay

Bookings: Matteo Darmian 83′

Confirmed Starting XI: Pogba the captain; Rojo back; Herrera, Fellaini, Martial and Lukaku also start

Manchester United take on Basel in the UEFA Champions League a point away from securing a place in the knockout stages of the competition this season. United beat Basel 3-0 at Old Trafford in the first group stage match this season with Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet. United have won all of the four matches played in the competition, seemingly pushing for a victory this evening, to keep their 100% record in the elite European competition intact. United’s U19 side were defeated 2-1 by Basle U19’s earlier in the day.

Jose Mourinho saw Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic return to action against Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday with the Frenchman inspiring his side to a 4-1 victory, coming from behind after Dwight Gayle scored in the 14th minute of the match. Marcos Rojo is back from injury and was on the bench at the weekend, not stepping onto the pitch. The Argentinian could feature for his side this evening.

Manchester United:


Darmian, Smalling, Rojo, Blind;

Herrera, Fellaini;

Lingard, Pogba (C), Martial;



Pereira; Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, McTominay; Ibrahimovic, Rashford

United and Basle have played five competitive matches, United winning twice, drawing twice and losing just one match. The last time the two sides played in Switzerland was a 2-1 defeat for United with Phil Jones scoring a consolation goal in the 89th minute after Marco Streller (9′) opened the scoring and Alexandre Frei (84′) doubled his sides lead. A victory for United this evening will see Mourinho’s side through with a game to spare, against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford on the 5th December 2017. Mourinho could field youth players, fringe players and possibly even players returning from injury; with Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick on the sidelines at this moment in time.

Ratings: Angel Gomes unable to inspire Manchester United to victory over Basel in the UEFA Youth League

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Basel in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday afternoon. The first half saw both teams have plenty of chances, only to end a draw. 14 minutes into the second half, Basel took the lead through Afimico Pululu. United, after making two changes, fell to pieces giving away a penalty on the 66th minute, which was scored by Yves Kaiser to take the Swiss side 2-0 up and cruising to victory. United got a goal back in the 70th minute from the free-kick, taken by Angel Gomes and headed into the net by Tyrell Warren.

Despite trying to get back in the game after going 2-0 down, it was not meant to be for the Red Devil’s youth. Game over – 2-1 to Basel. United were unlucky to lose in Basel and will now need to beat CSKA Moscow at Leigh Sports Village on the 5th December, hoping that Benfica can do the business against Basel, their only chance to win the group – other than that, United will get a play-off place with a victory over the Russian side.

Goals: Tyrell Warren 70′

Assists: Angel Gomes 71′

Manchester United: Fojtíček; Williams, Warren, Ercolani (Burkart 60′); O’Connor, Garner (Sang 60′), Hamilton, Tanner (Baars 71′); Gomes, Bohui, Boonen

Substitutes Not Used: Carney, Barrett, Kenyon, Galbraith

Manchester United

Alex Fojticek

Unlucky to be on the losing side today. Fojticek made plenty of saves to deny Basel, crucially a double save in the second half to stop the Swiss side from going 3-1.


Ro-Shaun Williams

Played well throughout the game but could not stop Basel from opening the scoring, not even Fojticek could do that. The penalty was not his fault, so cannot fault him.


Tyrell Warren

Scored the goal for United, which turned into a consolation. Played well during the match and tried to get his side level.


Luca Ercolani

Played on the left of a back three. It was not the best game for United. Dominant in the initial ten minutes of the half but Basel took control of the game from there. United went 1-0 down before Ercolani was replaced by Nishan Burkart.


Lee O’Connor

Played on the right when expected to start on the left. Did what he needed to do at times, could have done a little more at other times. Good respect though. Losing will help him reach his goals.


James Garner

Played in the centre of midfield. An area United needed to play much better in. Garner did all he could do but United needs to change the formation and sim to get back into the game at 1-0 down.


Ethan Hamilton

Played in midfield, an area that United could have been better in. Did what he needed to do at certain points, tried to get forward and create and inspire. It was not meant to be for United.


George Tanner

Tanner was down to start in the right-wing role, but started the game on the left. He played well, at times, but was hooked with 19 minutes left after United got themselves back into the game at 2-1. Gave away the penalty which send Basel 2-0 up.


28 Angel Gomes

Assisted Warren to get United back into the match. Unlucky with other set-pieces United won. Unable to inspire United at this level against a Swiss side who took time getting into the game, but them dominated.


Joshua Bohui

Could not become that goalscorer against a resurgent Basel side. Created space and played well in advances areas. It took a free-kick for United to find the back of the net at 2-0 down.


Indy Boonen

He is going to be a player that makes the headlines in the future. Impressed with his play at times. Tried to create for United. Sadly, he could not score or assist. Learning curve. United still have a chance to remain in the UEFA Youth League.



Nishan Burkart

Replaced Ercolani 61'. Came on to give United more attacking depth. Unable to create anything of note against resurgent Basel side.


Thomas Sang

Replaced Garner 61'. Gave the midfield a rise with his freshness, but Basel were 1-0 up at the time and soon to be 2-0 up. Helped his side, unfortunately they got nothing out of the game, other than experience.


Millen Baars

Replaced Tanner 71'. A creative player and one with a good future ahead. Came on after United goat a goal back at 2-1. Unable to help his side get level.


Report: Basel win 2-1 as Manchester United look to beating CSKA Moscow to remain in the UEFA Youth League

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Basel in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday afternoon. The first half saw both teams have plenty of chances, only to end a draw. 14 minutes into the second half, Basel took the lead through Afimico Pululu. United, after making two changes, fell to pieces giving away a penalty on the 66th minute, which was scored by Yves Kaiser to take the Swiss side 2-0 up and cruising to victory. United got a goal back in the 70th minute from the free-kick, taken by Angel Gomes and headed into the net by Tyrell Warren.

Nicky Butt started the likes of Angel Gomes, Indy Boonen, Lee O’Connor, Ro-Shaun Williams and Josh Bohui in this must-win UEFA Youth League match. As Benfica were beaten earlier in the day bt CSKA Moscow, United will win the group if they take all three points in this fixture. United had a good start to the match with Tyrell Warren fouled by Daniele Vesco which resulted in a free-kick for United and Vesco coming off injured with Atdhe Rashiti replacing him.

In the eighth minute, Gomes had a shot from outside the box, the Basel keeper pushing the effort wide, with United winning a corner. Basel had a chance to take the lead in the 15th minute through Rashiti, which was wide of the target after Alex Fojtíček forced the effort wide, Basel winning a corner – which came to nothing. United were aiming to take control of the game but getting nowhere around the halfway point of the first half. United had been creative, just not finding what was needed to take the lead. Basel also had chances to open the scoring, failing to do so.

Basel seemed to be a lot better than they were in the opening ten minute of the match, which could have been the chance for United to break. In the 30th minute of the match, Basel won a corner, a chance to pressure United. The corner saw Basel threaten United, despite being outside of the penalty area with a Basel player heading over the crossbar, which was lucky for United. Basel were on top at this stage of the game, creating chances and pressuring United at the back.

However, the score was still level with around thirteen minutes of the half remaining, plus stoppage time for the earlier incident in the match. Gezim Pepsi was shown the yellow card in the 34th minute of the match for a foul on James Garner, who had won the ball with United awarded a free-kick in the Basel half with Williams taking it, Indy Boonen at the near post and the Basel keeper taking possession of the ball. United had a chance to take the lead coming to the end of the first half through Hamilton, whose effort was off target.

Gomes gave away a free-kick in the 45th minute of the match, which was taken by Dejan Žunić but unable to pressure United into conceding the opening goal of the game. United had chances in the half through Gomes and Hamilton, unable to take the lead themselves. The match went into the break 0-0 with all to play for in the second half. Nicky Butt may be seeking a tactical change with Nishan Burkart and Millen Baars on the bench, both able to turn on the class for their club.

There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. Within three minutes Basel had another chance with Noah Okafor having a shot on goal with Fojtíček making the save. United were on the attack with Basel taking possession and turning the screw on the visiting side – aiming to take the advantage in the match. Basel, after a period of dominance and plenty of chances, took the lead in the 59th minute of the match through Afimico Pululu with Fojtíček not having a chance to make the save.

Nicky Butt then made two changes for United in the 60th minute with Luca Ercolani being replaced by Nishan Burkart and James Garner coming off for Thomas Sang. United were now playing a back four formation, which may be better for the side as they look to find the equaliser as a win in this match will secure United as the group winners. It was more doom and gloom for United as Basel were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute of the match after Pululu was fouled. Yves Kaiser put his side 2-0 up from the spot with United having an uphill challenge to deal with now.

United got a goal back in the 70th minute of the match through Tyrell Warren after being awarded a free-kick, taken by Gomes, with Warren rising for the ball and beating the keeper. Butt made his third change after the goal with Tanner being replaced by Millen Baars. Fojtíček kept United in the game after their goal, making a double save to deny Basel from scoring again. United needed to get stuck in and find that second goal to level the game in the remaining 18 minutes of the match. Okafor was booked in the 76th minute for a tug of the shirt – free-kick to United.

Gomes took the free-kick, missing the target with the Basel keeper making a diving effort, seemingly not confident the ball was going too wide of the target. United had a good period of possession, getting deep in the Basel half and aiming to score the equaliser, which the Basel keeper thwarted by making the save. Basel then won a throw-in after Gomes took the ball out of play at a time where United were getting forward a lot of the time.

United were under pressure in the 82nd minute and Fojtíček came off his line, cutting out a shot with United getting back to their defensive position. Pululu was shown a yellow card for simulation, diving in the box, seemingly trying to win a second penalty of the match. United not having it though. Basel made their second change in the 83rd minute with Nicola Suter replacing Okafor. In the 87th minute, Warren was booked for a foul on Suter, then a minute later, Suter was booked for a foul on Burkart. In the 89th minute, Hamilton missed a chance to level the score for United.

Game over. 2-1 to Basel. United were unlucky to lose in Basel and will now need to beat CSKA Moscow at Leigh Sports Village on the 5th December, hoping that Benfica can do the business against Basel, their only chance to win the group – other than that, United will get a play-off place with a victory over the Russian side.

Goals: Tyrell Warren 70′

Assists: Angel Gomes 71′

Manchester United: Fojtíček; Williams, Warren, Ercolani (Burkart 60′); O’Connor, Garner (Sang 60′), Hamilton, Tanner (Baars 71′); Gomes, Bohui, Boonen

Substitutes Not Used: Carney, Barrett, Kenyon, Galbraith

Confirmed Starting XI: Angel Gomes let loose on Basel in the UEFA Youth League

Manchester United U19’s face Basel U19’s in the UEFA Youth League this afternoon, KO 15:00 GMT. United top the group with eight points after four matches played with Nicky Bitt’s side seeking a victory to put them in good stead to reach the knockout stages of the tournament. Basel sit in second place in the group with seven points with Benfica in third place with six points, having played five matches.

Angel Gomes returns to the U19’s starting XI after winning the FIFA U17 World Cup with England last month. The 17-year-old played for United U18’s at the weekend, helping to beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1, scoring a brace in the victory. Butt has also selected Alex Fojtíček, Lee O’Connor, Luka Ercolani, Tyrell Warren, Ro-Shaun Williams,  George Tanner, James Garner, Ethan Hamilton, Angel Gomes, Indy Boonen, and Josh Bohui.

Manchester United:


Williams, Warren, Ercolani;

O’Connor, Garner, Hamilton, Tanner;


Bohui, Boonen


Carney, Barrett, Kenyon, Galbraith, Sang, Baars, Burkart

Butt has selected seven substitutes including Jacob Carney, Jake Barrett, Jake Kenyon, Ethan Galbraith, Thomas Sang, Millen Baars and Nishan Burkhart. A win for United will put them in with a great chance of winning the group with one match left in the competition, at group stage this season, CSKA Moscow at home, which will be played in just under a fortnight’s time at Leigh Sports Village.

How Manchester United could line up in the UEFA Champions League against Basel

Manchester United face Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening, their penultimate match of the group stage needing just a point to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. United beat Basel at Old Trafford earlier in the season with Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, and Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet. United have played Basel five times, winning twice, drawing twice and losing just once in the 15 years which have passed since the first game between the two sides. Jose Mourinho will be without Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, and Michael Carrick for this match, which is important for United if they want to confirm their place in the round of 16 with a game to go.

United have an easier ride this month – facing Basel in Switzerland, then Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford followed by Watford away. Next month, sandwiched in the middle of a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, United will entertain CSKA Moscow in the final group stage match of the Champions League. It will be one of nine matches in December, so for United, winning in Basel will be important as the final group stage match will be a dead rubber and less of a problem for Mourinho, who could play fringe players and youth in that final match, meaning those who played against Arsenal three days before will get a weeks rest ahead of the first derby of the season.

Starting XI and Formation Prediction:

Mourinho has tried the 3-5-2/3-4-3 variation a few times this season and during pre-season, so it is possible the manager will utilise this formation again. United are away from home, so there is a much better chance seeing this away rather than at Old Trafford. Mourinho has bags of talent in his squad this season and allowing only three defenders gives United immense power in midfield, the wings and in attack. Mourinho said himself that he can play three at the back to allow both strikers; Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play, even Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, or any variation of the forwards.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one is crucial to Manchester United winning something or nothing this season. There is currently talk of Real Madrid lurking in the shadows again, despite other rumours suggesting they have their eyes on another Spanish goalkeeper. The rumours will probably never go away – until the players retires whether that is at United or elsewhere. De Gea has shown many times this season just why he is the United number one.

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Back Three: Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind

Three at the back if a formation United can use sparingly. Not something that should be played all the time. If it can be sorted in a permanent way, it is something United can implement in big matches away from home, or even change the playing style late in a match – even at Old Trafford. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are both out of action for United, which leaves Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo as the fit, experienced central defenders with Axel Tuanzebe also eligible to play. Putting Lindelof, Smalling, who is already a confirmed starter and Blind could be what United need to get the point(s) they need in Basel.

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Wing Backs: Ashley Young, Luke Shaw

This is an area Manchester United could be stronger in, especially on the left side. Antonio Valencia will probably be rested for this match, keeping him fit for the visit of Brighton on Saturday, possibly even the visit to Watford next week. This could leave Matteo Darmian or Ashley Young for the right side, the latter in this instance and Luke Shaw, who has been part of the squad to face Newcastle on Saturday but did not get off the bench. Mourinho could give Shaw a chance to show his worth and maybe get a chance to have a string of matches as United left-back, or left wing-back in this instance. I don’t think it will happen though as rumour suggests Shaw is out of the club come the New Year – we shall see if those rumours are true in good time.

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Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba made his influential return against Newcastle on Saturday, commanding United to a victory, albeit from behind. The Frenchman was the Man of the Match, scoring a goal and assisting another – showing what United had missed for the past two months. Nemanja Matic did what he normally does, largely unnoticed which is the way he prefers. Pogba and Matic are a great midfield partnership. In this formation, it could work much better in United’s advantage with Pogba orchestrating the attacking and doing what he does best. Now the ABU’s and those who suggest Pogba was a waste of money know why United and Mourinho wanted him.

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Attacking Midfield: Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Whether you use Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata, this formation, with those behind them, could be a lively one for United. The creativity within this side is pretty immense – even one of the central defender is a ball-player – Lindelof. Mock him if you will but those who have short memories need to look back at Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra – both players had questionable starts to their United careers. Against Basel, Martial and Mkhitaryan could inspire United to a victory in Switzerland, obtaining the point – and more – needed to earn a place in the round of 16 next year.

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Striker: Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku broke his goal drought with a thundering effort against Newcastle United, United’s fourth of the day at the Theatre of Dreams. The Belgian had not scored for United in seven matches sandwiched in between the two international breaks, scoring for Belgium on both – the latest one becoming the top scorer for the country – which has not been recognised by FIFA. Lukaku has the confidence to get amongst the goals again, especially as his best friend, Paul Pogba is again fit and playing at the top of his ability. Lukaku has scored 12 times for United in all competitions this season, he will soon reach the dizzy heights of 20+, proving he was what United needed – and more.

Preview: Manchester United aiming to reach the knockout stages with Basel victory!

Basel -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League 2017/18

St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland

Wednesday 22nd November 2017; KO 19:45 BST

Live on BT Sport 2 HD in the United Kingdom

Manchester United have travelled to Switzerland to face Basel in the penultimate group stage match of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening. United beat the Swiss side 3-0 at Old Trafford in their first group stage match, and have since gone unbeaten in the elite European competition this season. Jose Mourinho saw his side strengthened against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday evening with the return of Paul Pogba, who went straight into the starting XI, inspiring his side to victory with a Man of the Match performance, a goal and an assist, also the return to Zlatan Ibrahimovic after around seven months out of action due to a knee injury. Marcos Rojo also made his return, remaining an unused substitute during the match.

Mourinho’s United side require just one point against Basel to earn a knockout stage clash, which is something the side will be confident of doing, meaning the final group stage match, against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford will be a match whereby the manager can blood in youth and those not regularly playing this season – not to mention allowing some injured players a match to get themselves back into action. United have started the season well, despite draws to Stoke City and Liverpool and defeats to Huddersfield Town and Chelsea in the Premier League. The Champions League was a competition United wanted to get back into – seemingly getting through their group with ease, at last.

The state of the pitch at St Jakob-Park has been talked about ahead of this match, as last week in a FIFA World Cup play-off, the pitch looked terrible. A week on, it might be alright but none of the players have trained on it, seemingly waiting until Wednesday’s match before seeing what it is actually like. Mourinho, speaking about the pitch in his pre-match press conference, said:

“Honestly, I don’t know. I want to see after 20 minutes. At the moment, it looks OK. But I respect the effort in trying to make a positive pitch after it was so bad in the play-offs for the national team.”

Chris Smalling, also speaking about the pitch in the press conference, stated:

“I think it’s hard to know until the game starts tomorrow, but we saw the pitch and it’s been relaid and it looks good. Hopefully it can hold out for the full game tomorrow, and it can be an entertaining game.”

Previous Matches: Two wins, two draws and one defeat for Manchester United against Basel

Manchester United and Basel have met five times competitively in the history of both clubs. United have won twice, drawing twice and losing once. The first match was played on the 26th November 2002 at St Jacob Park with United winning 3-1; Christian Gimenez put the hosts 1-0 up in the first minute, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored a brace in two minutes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored United third of the evening. The second match was a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on the 12th March 2003 with Gimenez opening the scoring and Gary Neville getting the equaliser. It would be nearly eight years before United and Basel met again.

The third match was played at Old Trafford on the 27th September 2011; a 3-3 draw with Danny Welbeck scoring twice in a minute (16th and 17th minutes), Fabian Frei getting a goal back in the 58th minute and Alexandre Frei equalising two minutes later before completing his brace, from the penalty spot in the 76th minute. Ashley Young rescued a point for United in the 90th minute. On the 7th December 2011, United were defeated 2-1 by Basel in Switzerland with Marco Streller and Alexandre Frei scoring with Phil Jones getting a consolation goal for United in the 89th minute. United beat Basel 3-0 at Old Trafford this season with Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, and Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet.

Form: Manchester United in better form, especially in the Champions League but Basel need a win and they may aim to get just that!

Manchester United started their season in good form, scoring goals for fun, at times. Since then, Mourinho’s side have drawn twice and been defeated twice in the Premier League, unbeaten in the Champions League and the Carabao Cup. Before the international break, United were beaten, again, by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, getting back to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Newcastle United in the league at Old Trafford on Saturday, coming back from going behind in the opening 15 minutes of the match, inspired by Paul Pogba, the Man of the Match who scored and assisted in the victory. Mourinho will be wanting to keep his side undefeated in the Champions League this season, also earning a place in the knockout stages with just a point needed from this match.

Basel sit second in the Swiss Super League, winning six, drawing five and losing three of the 14 matches played so far. The season in Switzerland will go into a winter break in early December with Basel having three more league matches remaining. Raphaël Wicky’s side have done well domestically, winning all three matches played in the Swiss Cup but it is the Champions League where the Swiss side have not been as good as they could have been. Beaten 3-0 by United in the opening group stage match, then beating Benfica 5-0 and CSKA Moscow 2-0, they fell to a second defeat, losing 2-1 to the Russian side. Basel are second in the group, six points adrift of leaders United, but with the same number of points as the Russian side. A win over United is needed on Wednesday.

Team News: Three players out through injury and three formerly injured players travel to Switzerland

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he will be without Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly for the trip to Switzerland due to injury. Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all travelled for the match with the latter already named on the bench with Mourinho pushing to get him 20-25 minutes of action. Mourinho confirmed:

“Zlatan goes on the bench tomorrow and normally he plays. He needs to play and he’s useful for us. He keeps the ball. If the team isn’t winning, his presence will be important. Instead of 15, he may play 20 or 25 minutes, but he’s not in condition to start.”

Chris Smalling will start the match and with Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind in the travelling party could choose to play a three at the back formation which could see him test two strikers, or two creative players behind the striker. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the squad after missing out against Newcastle United on Saturday evening with Mourinho confirming he was left out due to the number of options he had at his perusal. Mourinho confirmed:

“There is always a question about someone who is not playing or is not in the best form. There are no questions about Anthony Martial and no questions about Chris Smalling.

“There are always questions about somebody in a certain moment, a certain match and a certain period that didn’t play. The story is always the same. In some positions, when you don’t have injuries, you have lots of options in other positions. In this moment, we have Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay so I can imagine, next week, you are going to ask – why is this player not playing?

“Micki is not playing because we had lots of options for that match. I decided to play Marcus Rashford and Martial together. For many weeks, the questions was – why do they not play together? Now the question is why is Micki not playing. The answer is every simple – until the international board change the rules, I can only start with 11!”

Predicted Starting XI: Three at the back in Basel? Mourinho to let Luke Shaw in from the cold? Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan behind Romelu Lukaku?

Match Prediction: Manchester United to ensure qualification into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with Swiss victory!

Basel 1-3 Manchester United

Manchester United drawn against Benfica, FC Basel, and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League group stage

Manchester United found out their fate in the UEFA Champions League group stage draw for the 2017/18 season, the first time the Old Trafford club have been in the competition since they exited from the group stages into the UEFA Europa League in the 2015/16 season. Last season, United only qualified for the Europa League, winning the tournament in Stockholm in May, 2-0 victors against Ajax. United finished sixth in the Premier League, missing out on the Champions League, but getting into the tournament through the Europa League, meaning five teams from England will be in the competition this season, United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. Scottish champions Celtic also made it through the play off round, meaning six teams from the United Kingdom will play in the group stages, nearly one team per group.

United manager Jose Mourinho will manage his club for the first time in the elite European competition, giving him a challenge in the 2017/18 season in which he will be expected to lead an offensive to lift the Premier League title in May. Reports have confirmed this week that United’s players have been tasked with a Premier League and Emirates FA Cup double this season, also tasked to reach the last eight of the Champions League this season, which based on last season would be manageable, playing more matches in the Europa League so the team will be able to play the number of matches expected by the manager. United will obviously not be pitted against any of the English teams in the competition this season. United were drawn in Group A along with Benfica, FC Basel, and CSKA Moscow. The full group stage draw can be found below:

Manchester United have faced all of the teams they have been drawn against before, which is a good thing as they know what to expect, or at least should. United have scouted Benfica for a number of seasons now, so they should be on of the teams Mourinho and his staff should be knowledgeable about. Basel were a tough side for United six years ago and CSKA Moscow will always be a tough one, perhaps not just in terms of competition but travel also. Here is everything you need to know about the three teams Manchester United will face in the UEFA Champions League this season.


Benfica are managed by Rui Vitória and are the reigning Primeira Liga champions and were founded on the 28th February 1940. The Águias (Eagles) play at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal which will be a good trip for the travelling Manchester United supporters. United have scouted Benfica for a while now with Jose Mourinho intensifying scouting in his native Portugal, so this season will have another means for scouting the club, ready for the first match of the new Champions League season. There have been nine competitive matches between Benfica and United in the history of both clubs, perhaps the biggest for United was the European Cup final victory over the Portuguese giants in 1968 as United lifted the European Cup for the very first time.

United have lost one of the nine matches, a 2-1 defeat on the 7th December 2005 which saw Geovanni (17′) and Gilberto Beto (34′) cancelling out Paul Scholes opener in the sixth minute. United have drawn twice, 2-2 and 1-1 in their last two matches, played in the group stages in the 2011/12 season. The six wins for United will be something to look at and show United can beat the Portuguese giants, but the most recent matches will show the warning signs. Konstantinos Mitroglou is the star player at Benfica, scoring 27 goals in 43 appearances last season. New United signing Victor Lindelof could give United some insight on his former team. Benfica have won the European Cup twice, back-to-back in the 1960/61 season and the 1961/62 season.

FC Basel

Basel are managed by Raphael Wicky and are the reigning Swiss Super League champions and were founded on the 18th November 1893. The RotBlau (RedBlue) play at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland which is a relatively short trip for United. Basel are a good side, but United will be looking to reign supreme in the group stages of the Champions League this season, avoiding the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Juventus, which is a good thing. Other clubs have not been so lucky. United and Basel have met before, four times in the history of both clubs, all after the year 2000. United have won once, drawn twice and lost once. In the 2011/12 season, United had both Benfica and Basel in their group, failing to beat both teams.

A 3-3 draw against Basel at Old Trafford was followed by a 2-1 defeat and United exiting the group stage that season, falling into the UEFA Europa League for the first time, and falling short in that competition too. The only victory over Basel for United came on the 26th November 2002, a 3-1 victory which saw Ruud van Nistelrooy score a brace (62′ and 63′) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (68′) completing United’s scoring. Christian Gimenez opened the scoring in the first minute of the match. Seydou Doumbia is the clubs star player, scoring 20 goals last season. Eric Bailly should be knowledgeable about his compatriot. Basel have never won the Champions League achieving a quarter-final place in the 1973/74 season, also reaching the last 16 in the 2011/12 and 2015/16 seasons.

CSKA Moscow

CSKA Moscow are managed by Viktor Goncharenko and finished as the runners-up in the Russian Premier League last season and were founded on the 27th August 1911. The Krasno-sinie (Red-Blues) play at the VEB Arena at Khodynka Field, Moscow, Russia. This will be the biggest journey for United in the group stages of the Champions League this season and will be a tricky visit for United supporters as a visa will be required. United and CSKA Moscow have played four times in the history of both clubs, the matches played post-2000 in the group stages of the Champions League in the 2009/10 and 2015/16 seasons. United have never been beaten by the Russian side, winning twice and drawing twice one each home and away.

In the first match between the two clubs, United won 1-0 in Moscow with Michael Owen scoring the only goal of the match. In the second group stage match, played at Old Trafford, it was a 3-3 scoreline with United capitalising from a 90th-minute own goal. The next two matches came post-Sir Alex Ferguson, in the Louis van Gaal era. United drew 1-1 in Moscow, Anthony Martial scoring the goal, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney scoring the winning goal. Israeli midfielder Bibras Natkho was CSKA Moscow’s best player last season with seven goals in 33 appearances, not the best, but this does not mean they are not a threat. The Russian side have never won the Champions League but did lift the UEFA Cup in 2005.

Thoughts on the draw and Manchester United’s chances this season

Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United squad will be seeking a good return to the Champions League this season, putting the Europa League victory last season in their locker to show that the side can go all the way in competitions. Doing the same in the Champions League this season could well be possible but not expected based on the fact United looked to be a big distance away from the likes of Real Madrid, the team who has lifted the Champions League trophy for the last two seasons, losing the UEFA Super Cup match between the two sides earlier this month. United will be pushing to get out of the group stage, avoiding the Europa League as it is a drain on the squad, taking what they can in the knockout round if they make it there. It will be a tough competition, but Mourinho has reportedly set the target of a place in the last eight, which will be great if United are capable of doing so.

copyright: JW