When Manchester United were drawn alongside big-spending French outfit PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League, everybody associated with the club would be forgiven for thinking they had little chance of beating the Parisians.
However, fast forward a few months and things have taken a turn for the better at Old Trafford. Interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now won ten of his 11 games in charge of the Red Devils in all competitions. They will head into this Tuesday nights first leg at Old Trafford full of confidence and surely fancying their chances of taking a lead into the second leg.
Full of confidence and swagger
Manchester United’s star players finally look like they are fulfilling their potential. The likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have been instrumental in their team’s revival of late. It is not just the highly rated pair who are producing though.
The team are playing with confidence and seem to have a swagger about them that has not been seen in a United team since Sir Alex Ferguson retired back in 2013.
France international Pogba, in particular, is thriving under the management of Solskjaer. The Norwegian has given the midfielder the freedom to roam and the tactic has brought the best out of the former Juventus star.
The form that Pogba so often showed in Turin has only been on display in flashes in the red of United. That was until the appointment of Solskjaer. Some claim that Pogba is in the form of his career and that is hard to argue with at the minute.
PSG will be without Neymar and Edinson Cavani
The visitors to Old Trafford on Wednesday night will be without Brazilian superstar Neymar and Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani who are both currently sidelined through injury. Both players have been highly influential in PSG’s rise up the European rankings in recent years.
The pair are two of the most highly-rated attacking players in the European game and are crucial to how Thomas Tuchel’s side plays. The German boss has claimed that PSG will still attack United even without the star duo.
However, the loss of two players of Cavani and Neymar’s quality would impact any team. The pair’s absence means that young French starlet Kylian Mbappe will shoulder much of PSG’s attacking burden.
The young World Cup winner is certainly capable of causing United problems, especially as the French side has the likes of Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria to back up the youngster in Manchester.
United favourites to win the first leg
Who would have thought when the draw was made that Manchester United would be 29/20 favourites to win the first leg at Old Trafford. However, such is the impact that Solskjaer has made on the team that it is not fanciful to believe the Red Devils will record a victory on Tuesday night.
No doubt United will go at PSG from the first whistle, as they have done in every game under their temporary boss.
PSG have struggled at English stadiums in the Champions League, having won just once in ten trips across the channel. Tuchel’s side can certainly not afford any complacency heading into this clash. An improvement on that poor record would be an achievement.
This will be a far tougher tie for the French side than they expected a few months ago. They crave success in Europe’s elite competition after dominating Ligue One in the past few seasons. This is typical of the sort of hurdle they have to overcome if they really want to be European champions.
The tie overall is highly difficult to call. United certainly have a chance of heading through to the last eight. A first leg victory would definitely boost their chances of progression to the last eight that is for sure.
Will Manchester United record a first leg victory over PSG in the Champions League last 16?
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