Depleted United face tough PSG challenge to progress


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United face a tough ask in overturning a two-goal deficit in the Champions League round of 16 second-leg against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.

Goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe inflicted the Norwegian’s first defeat in charge of the Red Devils three weeks ago, leaving Manchester as 2-0 victors.

It felt like a missed opportunity for United, with PSG missing key stars such as Edinson Cavani and Neymar. Cavani, the first man to ever score 100 goals at the Parc des Princes, has since resumed full training and is likely to feature.

Unfortunately for the English side, the table have turned going into the second-leg with United now missing plenty of first-team players.

Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial both picked up their injuries in the first meeting between the two teams and  will miss the trip to Paris. Alexis Sanchez is expected to be out for six to eight weeks with a ligament injury sustained in United’s weekend win against Southampton, whilst Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera add to an injury list totally ten for Solskjaer. Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia complete the absentees for United.

One man who is fit is Frenchman Paul Pogba. The World Cup winner has been in sensational form since the Norweigan’s arrival at the club and would have been keen on displaying his talents against his home nation but a suspension rules the former Juventus man out after his first-leg dismissal.

Three of the PSG squad were also World Cup winners alongside Pogba in Russia with Alphonse Areola, Kimpembe and Mbappé all part of Didier Deschamps’ victorious squad . The World Cup links do not end there with Marcos Rojo having to potentially face off against Mbappe, the man he conceded a penalty to at the round of 16 stage in Russia.

Rojo would only feature due to injuries and the weakened away side could prove a help to Thomas Tuchel’s PSG as they bid to reach the quarter-final for the first time in three years. It is no secret that Champions League success is high on the priorities of any incoming PSG manager as the German looks to match or succeed the 1994/95 Parisian side who reached the semi-final stage.

The French champions’ record against English opposition also makes them clear favourites for the tie. The Ligue One side have already beaten Liverpool 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on matchday five and have only lost one of their last nine home fixtures against English teams. In fact, they have only lost two of their last 50 home European fixtures.

Despite being unbeaten in their last six against Premier League opponents, PSG have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those fixtures. Gianluigi Buffon, the oldest player in this season’s competition at age 41, was hardly troubled during the first-leg but United will hope the return to form for Romelu Lukaku will help breach PSG’s defences.

United have won eight away games in a row and have scored two or more in four of their last five, a feat they know has be repeated to stand any chance of progress.

The Red Devils have failed to come back from a first-leg home defeat in their three attempts previously in UEFA competition’s (vs Bayern Munich, 2000/01, vs Milan, 2004/05 and Athletic Bilbao, 2011/12).

The travelling side can take hope from emerging victorious from six of their last seven two-legged ties against French sides but will know the magnitude of the task that faces them on Wednesday night.

They may need all of Solskjaer’s own experience from the competition, a winner of course with the Reds in 1998/99, as United bid to shock PSG and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2013/14 season under David Moyes.


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