Manchester United’s renaissance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will receive perhaps its greatest test to date when they welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Old Trafford in the Champions League last 16.
The Red Devils’ fine form continued under the Norwegian as they defeated Fulham 3-0 at the weekend, continuing their unbeaten run under the former Molde boss. While United are thriving, their opponents are struggling, with Saturday’s 1-0 win over Bordeaux achieved only by an Edison Cavani penalty. The Uruguayan then limped off injured, adding yet another issue to Thomas Tuchel’s growing list.
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial). New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 2 and otherwise at full strength for this encounter. Consequently, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection should prove relatively straightforward, with Paris natives Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial set to start.
Possible Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial PSG received a massive blow at the weekend when it was confirmed that Edinson Cavani will miss this match due to a thigh problem and may not be back in time for the return leg either.
Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, had already been ruled out because of a metatarsal issue – and he, too, is set to miss the second encounter. Ex-Manchester United man Angel Di Maria is in line to start, as is Marco Verratti, though he has played only an hour following an ankle injury in January.
Possible PSG starting XI: Buffon; Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Marquinhos, Verratti; Dani Alves, Draxler, Di Maria; Mbappe Manchester United are 13/10 favourites with Bet365. PSG can be backed at 11/5, while the draw is priced at 13/5.
When the Champions League draw was made in December, Manchester United were strong underdogs against Paris Saint-Germain. The roles, however, have arguably been reversed, with the Premier League outfit now considered to have the edge going into this tie. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revived what was previously a team ailing under Jose Mourinho, with 10 wins and a draw from 11 matches in charge.
“Going into this game, I don’t think we could be in a better frame of mind with confidence and form so we are really looking forward to the next few games coming up,” Solskjaer said, considering forthcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Chelsea – a run that could potentially define the club’s season and give the Norwegian the job on a permanent basis.
Kylian Mbappe is the only one fit from the superstar trio consisting of himself, Neymar and Cavani and head coach Thomas Tuchel appreciates that the 20-year-old cannot shoulder the offensive duties himself.
“You can’t place all of the burden and pressure on him. It’s not his job to replace Cavani and Neymar and he can’t play all three roles at once. I want us to provide him the right kind of support. “You cannot replace quality players, and we cannot replace Neymar. Manchester United could not replace [Paul] Pogba or [Marcus] Rashford. We cannot replace Neymar.”
Tuchel has previously indicated that injuries have forced him to plot a ‘Plan D’ for this encounter, and he appreciates that the Red Devils are a side transformed from the one they were drawn against.
“Manchester United are completely different,” Tuchel added. “They get a lot of early leads. To play at this moment against this Manchester United is one of the toughest challenges we could have. Since the draw, things have completely changed.” Simply staying in the tie would not be considered something of an achievement for the Parisians, who have exited this stage of the competition in each of the last two years.