Manchester United failed to secure top spot of the Champions League Group A after a 1-0 loss in Basel. Jose Mourinho’s team did not manage to earn a point they needed to make sure they will be seeded in the first knockout round draw. They will have to at least draw against Benfica in the final group-stage match in order to finish first in the group.
It was not a performance of the highest quality and Manchester United almost got away with it. Reds were trying not to spend too much energy on this game before some important Premier League matches. Yet, Michael Lang scored after 89 minutes to earn Basel much-needed three points in fight for the spot in the round of 16.
Pogba Given Important Minutes
This was probably the most important thing Manchester United gained from this match. Paul Pogba played 66 minutes. He earned valuable minutes on the pitch in his quest of reaching the needed fitness levels. The Frenchman already missed two months of football due to his injury in the first match against Basel.
His team-mates missed him very much while he was recuperating and now they need him 100% fit again. Pogba did not tire too much in a match that was never going to be full-throttle kind of game. He had 91% of completed passes, making one key pass and two shots in the process. Nothing too flashy, but Man United did not need that right now. They need him fit for the crucial months of the season.
Manchester United Thinking About Weekend
It was obvious right from the start this was not going to be a powerful Man United performance. Jose Mourinho started the match with Sergio Romero in goal, Matteo Darmian on right back, Daley Blind on the opposite side. Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini were also there and Marcos Rojo made his comeback to the starting XI after a long-term injury.
The manager made a choice of resting some important players. Nemanja Matic played for about 25 minutes, as well as Marcus Rashford. David De Gea did wonderfully so far this season and he got a night off. Manchester United will host Brighton this coming weekend as points in the Premier League are a priority now. The Champions League group was never making real problems to this team until this match in Basel, yet Manchester United are still capable of managing this blip. They only need to make improvements against CSKA Moscow in two weeks’ time.
Fellaini Still Important
This was probably not the vintage Marouane Fellaini performance. Yet it showed why Jose Mourinho will want the Belgian to stay at the club. Fellaini will be a free agent next summer and starting 1 January he will be allowed to talk with non-British clubs about the pre-contract.
However, Mourinho will try and do everything to prevent that from happening. Fellaini is a ‘Mourinho-player’, a ball winner at every part of the pitch. The tall Belgian was the one clearing Basel crosses with headers and he is still able of making opposition feel uncomfortable when he is around their box. That should be enough for Mourinho.