Manchester United simply can’t stop winning and this past Saturday, they secured a huge 3-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage. However, they are about to endure their toughest test of the 2018-19 season. In the biggest match of the season thus far for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Red Devils will host PSG in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. This pivotal UCL contest will kick-off at 20:00 GMT.
Manchester United should have almost every player available for this European fixture. Solskjaer confirmed the only two absentees will be Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian. Both be out for “a few weeks” after Solskaer described their injuries as “niggles”. Valencia has not played since the 2-0 win at Newcastle on 2 January. Meanwhile, Darmian hasn’t featured since appearing off the bench against Brighton in mid-January.
On the other hand, PSG won’t have two of their best players available. Neymar has been ruled out and Edinson Cavani is “quite unlikely” to feature after leaving last weekend’s match against Bordeaux with an undisclosed injury. One player that’s expected to feature is Marco Verratti, as the Italian returned to the squad in the aforementioned match against Girondins this past Saturday.
Manchester United are playing at a very high level right now. They won comfortably against Fulham and have now registered 10 wins in 11 matches while going undefeated since the appointment of Solskjaer as interim manager. Playing in Europe is something else, though, and this will be Solskjaer’s first game managing in the UEFA Champions League. But he seems to be up to the challenge, and the numbers certainly back him up.
Meanwhile, PSG have been almost unstoppable at the league level and they comfortably lead the Ligue 1 standings with a 10-point lead over the second-placed team, Lille. To make things even better, PSG have two games in hand, so we could be talking about a 16-point lead with only 14 matches left. They had more problems than expected to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, but they will be a tough team to defeat. Even if United will have the home-venue advantage in this first leg.
What is our recent record against PSG?
We’ve never met PSG in a competitive match in the past. The only previous meeting between these two sides was in the 2015 International Champions Cup. The French outfit secured a 2-0 win in that match with goals from Blaise Matuidi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, two players that no longer feature for the reigning Ligue 1 champions.
Despite the fact PSG won’t have Neymar and Cavani, they’re still a team that would force any side to take extra precautions defensively. Their impressive attacking depth, plus United’s goalscoring form at home, would suggest this one finishes with both teams scoring. Plus, when it comes to find a winner, it’s impossible to discard United’s current run of form. They will have to work hard, but could come out as winners once it’s all said and done.