Manuel Veth –
Paris vs Manchester United – Wednesday, March 6, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – Parc des Princes, Paris, France
“The best way to prepare for a great game is to win the game ahead,” Thomas Tuchel said this weekend. In that regard, Tuchel could be satisfied with his side, which beat Caen 2-1 but at the same time, Manchester United will be a much more difficult test than the side located on France’s north coast.
At the same time, the side facing United on Wednesday at the Parc des Princes will be very different as well. Thiago Silva, Gigi Buffon, Marco Verratti, Juan Bernat and Julian Draxler were either completely rested or saw reduced playing time. PSG are 17 points clear at the top of the table and can, therefore, afford to rotate players.
Nonetheless, one major question mark remains. Will Edinson Cavani, who already missed the first leg, be ready for the second leg? Cavani has trained this week but remains doubtful. Instead, everything will once again depend on Kylian Mbappé.
“We cannot show fear,” Mbappé said this week. The sort of fear that led to two exits in the last two years against Barcelona, despite a 4-0 home victory and an away goal, and Real Madrid.
No team in the history of the Champions League has managed to make up a two-goal home deficit. Nonetheless, Manchester United will refuse to give up.
On the weekend the Red Devils were down by two goals against Southampton but still managed to win the game 3-2. But in Paris Manchester will be without midfielders Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matić and Paul Pogba, who was sent off in the first leg.
“Who knows, history is full of great comebacks,” United head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær explained this week. “Belief is part of the history of this great club. We have to win on the road, which we managed to do in the last eight games in a row,” Solskjær added.”
Paris are warned ahead of the return leg. Both by their history but also by Manchester United’s history. Nonetheless, PSG are favourites to advance to the quarterfinals based on the first leg result.
Paris vs Manchester United – Players to look out for:
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting #17 – Paris Saint-Germain
How will Thomas Tuchel replace Edinson Cavani? The Uruguayan forward, after all, has scored 17 goals in 16 Ligue 1 games this season. Without a doubt, Mbappé will return in the lineup but while the French teenage sensation has scored 18 goals in 17 Ligue 1 games this season, he lacks the physical presence that Cavani brings to this side. Hence, Tuchel could opt to start Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting next to Mbappé in what will likely be a 3-1-4-2 formation. Because even though Choupo-Moting lacks the pure goalscoring ability, he has the physical presence to create room for Mbappé and the other attacking players in the lineup and also has the experience of playing at Old Trafford from his time at Stoke.
Romelu Lukaku #9 – Manchester United
Manchester United will need goals if they want to advance to the next round and Romelu Lukaku is the likeliest to produce them. The big Belgian striker currently leads Manchester United with 12 goals in 26 Premier League games. Furthermore, Lukaku was also the key player on the weekend scoring twice against Southampton to help United secure three important points in the Champions League race.
Paris vs Manchester United – Match Stats
- The first leg was the first time the two sides have met in a competitive fixture.
- This is the English club’s 11th round of 16 tie (W6 L4), and their 18th participation in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages overall. Having lost their first two last-16 contests, United won all but one of the next seven before last season’s defeat by Sevilla.
- In 2017/18 United drew the first leg at Sevilla 0-0 but were beaten 2-1 in the home second leg. That ended a 21-match unbeaten run in Europe at Old Trafford (W17 D4).
- The Red Devils have won six of their seven two-legged knockout contests against French clubs. Solskjær scored in the sole defeat, against Monaco in the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals (0-0 away, 1-1 home).
- This is Paris’s seventh successive UEFA Champions League campaign, and they have reached the round of 16 on each occasion – although they are yet to match their 1994/95 achievement of reaching the semi-finals.
- After four successive quarter-final appearances between 2013 and 2016, Paris have lost at this stage in each of the last two seasons. Paris’s round of 16 record is, therefore, W4 L2.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Paris vs Manchester United – 2-2
Paris vs Manchester United – Lineups
Buffon – Kimpembe, Kehrer, Silva – Marquinhos – Bernat, Draxler, Verratti, Di Maria – Mbappé, Choupo-Moting
Head Coach: Thomas Tuchel
De Gea – Young, Jones, Lindelöf, Shaw – Fred, McTominay, Perreira – Lukaku, Rashford, Martial
Head Coach: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.