Home » Discussing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical dilemma against Paris St Germain

Discussing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical dilemma against Paris St Germain

by Red Billy

With just a point needed tonight against PSG to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has an interesting tactical decision to make about how he approaches the game.

Usually, needing just one point in a match calls for a conservative, if not defensive set-up, especially for a team like United, which is at its best when counter-attacking.

However, when the opposition team has a forward line of Neymar, Icardi and Mbappe, sitting back and inviting pressure is arguably asking for trouble.

The two formations Solskjaer has been using most often this season are 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2 diamond, with Bruno Fernandes an automatic selection in the number 10 position (middle of the three in the 4-2-3-1 or tip of the diamond in the 4-4-2). And despite the fact that the 4-2-3-1 contains two defensive midfielders, the diamond is arguably more defensive as it will contain just two forwards (twin strikers such as Rashford and Cavani) whereas the 4-2-3-1 would have three (two advanced wingers such as Rashford and Martial plus a striker, such as Cavani).

The diamond would probably see Nemanja Matic at the base and Fred and Donny Van de Beek ahead of him, both of whom are able to put in a good shift defensively.

With the 4-2-3-1, only Matic plus one other would have significant defensive duties.

However, if attack really is the best form of defence against this highly talented French side, the additional forward in the 4-2-3-1 could see United really stay on the front foot and push for the win.

Of course, the manager may repeat the even more defensive 3-4-1-2 formation that he employed in Paris to good effect, although with Axel Tuanzebe suspended and Luke Shaw recovering from a hamstring injury, only Eric Bailly, who himself has not played since returning from a muscle injury, or the inexperienced Tim Fosu-Mensah would be available to make up the defensive trio.

Another option could be for Matic to play as a makeshift centre-back alongside Maguire and Lindelof with Scott McTominay taking up the holding midfield role.

What Solskjaer decides to do in this particular situation will tell us a lot about his character as a manager. Park the bus and hope for a smash-and-grab on the counter with the 3-4-1-2? Or go after PSG with the 4-2-3-1 and risk being put to the sword on the counter themselves? Or will he aim for somewhere in between the two with the 4-4-2 diamond, which could offer the best of both worlds or could fall between two stools?

All will become clear when the teams are announced at 7pm this evening.

Edinson Cavani has made quite an impact since his deadline day arrival at Old Trafford, but how much do you know about our other South American players, past and present? Take our quiz below to find out!

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