Manchester United successfully qualified for the Champions League round of 16, beating CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night. It was the final group stage match in which Jose Mourinho’s players had to ensure not to lose by a five goal margin. Of course, as that did not happen, Man United ended up top of their group, ahead of Basel in second, CSKA in third and Benfica in fourth.
Yet, now the challenges are getting a bit different. Champions League will be out of the picture for all clubs participating until at least mid-February, depending which week will which team play their first leg matches. That means, the Reds can focus on the league.
No Champions League Football
Counting UEFA Super Cup Final, Manchester United played seven matches in international competitions this season. With the fans hoping of playing 14th one in late May, that will be put on hold for over two months. These 60+ days should now be used for focusing solely on the Premier League.
Of course, that will not be the only competition featuring Manchester United. In about two weeks from now, the Reds will host Bristol City in EFL Cup. That will be the chance to secure a double-header in the semifinals of the competition, should Manchester United beat the Championship side.
And then there is FA Cup. Man United start from the 3rd round, as usual, and will play Derby County. Another team from England’s second tier will visit Old Trafford. However, that match should be a chance for slight rotations, trying to keep the legs fresh during the chaotic part of the season.
Manchester United v Manchester City Coming Up
This new part of the season starts with the Manchester Derby. United will host City this Sunday, in their quest of chasing the rival in Premier League standings. Man City are eight points ahead and United must do anything they can to almost halve that advantage with a crucial home win.
“I have one hundred per cent complete trust in the team,” Paul Pogba said to Sky Sports. The Frenchman will not be available after a straight red card he received against Arsenal. That means he will miss the Manchester City game and further two matches. However, he is not worried for his teammates.
“Even if I’m not there, I will be there giving them energy. There will be a big atmosphere in the stadium. It’s a big game, with a big team and big players.
“These are the games you want to play. Unfortunately, I won’t be playing but I will be there to help the team mentally. Obviously, we are playing City and in this moment we need the points and we need to win. It’s an important moment, an important game”, Pogba said.
The two-month long cycle starts this weekend. Manchester United are getting into the busiest part of the season and should back themselves to do well. The players are now pretty much all back into full fitness, the confidence is growing after a confident Arsenal win and a great performance in the Manchester Derby could only set them for even higher standards of performances.