Manchester United face a strong PSG side in Paris this evening without the extra pressure of needing points from the game to ensure qualification.
The game will provide the Red Devils with a good opportunity to pit themselves against some of the world’s best and all the pressure will be on the French side, both from a point of view of getting home points – always seen as crucial to qualifying from the Champions League group stages – and in terms of exacting revenge on United for their historic victory at the Parc des Princes in March last year which saw PSG crash out of the tournament at the round of 16 stage.
With little to lose, there are three key opportunities that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must exploit to try to repeat that memorable feat and come away with another victory from the French capital.
1. Release Paul Pogba – the 27-year-old has not had the best of starts to the season but he loves a big stage and will want to show the world what he can do. But for him to be at his most effective, Solskjaer needs to deploy Pogba further up the field than he has in recent months. Pogba has the ability to unlock any defence in the world and where better to watch him do so than in his home city.
2. Start Donny van de Beek – United’s summer signing has shown excellent qualities from the bench in the Premier League this season and has a proven track record in the Champions League, being part of the brilliant Ajax side that reached the semi-finals in 2018/19. It is time to give the hungry 23-year-old 90 minutes.
It may seem overly attacking to play both Pogba and Van de Beek tonight with Bruno Fernandes playing in the hole, but given the circumstances of the game, attack could be the best form of defence and Solskjaer should not fear taking the game to the French champions.
3. Give Alex Telles his debut – whilst it may seem like a gamble to start a player for the first time in such a big game, Telles is a strong, fast and capable left-back with significantly more Champions League experience than Luke Shaw. Whilst Shaw has notched 10 games in the competition, Telles has completed 31 and also has two Champions League goals and seven assists to his name.
With Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly both out of the game, Solskjaer might push Luke Shaw into a centre-back role, especially if he decides to play three at the back and so there is all the more reason for him to throw the swashbuckling Telles in and see what he can do.
Above all, Solskjaer and his players must not respect PSG too much and should ‘have a go’. The United side is designed to counter-attack and employing these three players in those strategic positions will be key to success and to perhaps pick-pocketing the Parisians in their own back yard for a second time.
This summer’s transfer window was at times frustrating and disappointing. So cast your mind back to less stressful days and test your knowledge of past United arrivals and departures in our quiz below.