UCL Group Stage Preview: Manchester United vs FC Basel

Manchester United are back in the UEFA Champions League. After missing out last season, The Red Devils return to Europe’s biggest club competition thanks to their UEFA Europa League title. And they will debut this Tuesday against FC Basel at Old Trafford, one of the most magical venues when it comes to European miracles. Kick-off is scheduled at 7:45 PM BST, and Ruddy Buquet will be the referee.

The Opponent

The reigning Swiss champions have not started their league season on the best form. They dropped the season opener against BSC Young Boys, and lost this Saturday against Lausanne-Sport as well. But there is a reason why they have won the Swiss Super League the past eight seasons in a row. They will bounce back in no time, and remain the favourites to capture the title.

The story is complicated at the European level, though. They will look to impress, but starting on the road and at Old Trafford should be intimidating at least. But they won the last time out at The Theatre of Dreams in the 2011-12 campaign, when a goal from Alexander Frei knocked United out of the group stage. In total, United have played four times against Basel and all the previous meetings have come in the Champions League. The balance indicates one win, two draws, and one defeat.

Looking at team news for this game, Basel won’t have Alexander Fransson (ankle) and Germano Vailati (shoulder) available. Meanwhile, Dimitri Oberlin is dealing with a hip problem, and will need a late-fitness test to determine whether he will be able to feature or not.

Team News

Luke Shaw and Ashley Young continue their recovery process, and both players should return to first-team duties sooner than later. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo remain sidelined for at least a few more months, so both have been ruled out.

On the other hand, Marouane Fellaini will need a late-fitness test to determine his availability. The Belgian midfielder missed the trip to Stoke with a calf injury, and Mourinho did not confirm whether he will be available or not for Tuesday. He did, however, admitted he feels the team feels “weaker” without “The Belgian Tower” on the squad.

Mourinho also stated David De Gea will start despite Sergio Romero being fit and available. Romero was the starter during last season’s Europa League campaign, but this time the gaffer will trout the Spaniard out there due to his impressive form of late.

Victor Lindelöf and Chris Smalling will start as well, since both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are serving European suspensions.

Predicted Starting XI

Aside from the two aforementioned changes at centre-back, United’s team should not change much from the side that drew 2-2 against Stoke on Saturday.

GK: David De Gea

RB: Antonio Valencia

CB: Chris Smalling

CB: Victor Lindelöf

LB: Daley Blind

CM: Nemanja Matic

CM: Paul Pogba

RW: Juan Mata

AM: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

LW: Marcus Rashford

CF: Romelu Lukaku

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