Manchester United makes a return to the summit of European football and they get things started with a visit from Basel on Tuesday night. The Reds take on the Swiss side at home in their Group A opener.
Manchester United made a back-door entry into the Champions League after missing out last year by winning the Europa League last season and Mourinho’s men will look to make a positive start to their campaign by winning at home against a side they haven’t been very successful against.
United were grouped with Basel twice before and out of the four times they faced off against each other, United emerged victorious just once and drawing twice.
The last time the two clubs met was back in 2011 when Basel defeated United in a famous win that saw United exit the Champions League in group stage.
While United have got off to a great start to the new season, the same cannot be said of Basel and have gotten off to a mixed start, with two losses among the matches they played.
In what promises to be an exciting fixture, let’s take a look at the 5 things to look out for .
Victor Lindelof to start :
With United’s first choice defensive pair Eric Bailey and Phil Jones out of United’s Champions League opener against Basel due to suspension, Victor Lindelof is set to make his first appearance for United since the uncomfortable Super Cup final against Real Madrid.
With Jose Mourinho claiming that the Swede needs time to adapt to the Premier League, Lindelof had to be content with watching games from home or from the stands.
However, Lindelof, who is highly rated by many including Jose, shouldn’t be too worried about the current scenario as Jose Mourinho has a brilliant track record with defenders, not to mention the fact that Mkhitaryan had to face the same treatment which resulted in the Portugese gradually getting the best out of the Armenian.
With Smalling also set to make his first appearance this season for United, it will be interesting to see how the pair would get on against a potentially threatening opposition in Basel.
Van Wolfskinkel :
With an opposition as mighty as Manchester United, it won’t be easy at all for Basel especially seeing that they are away from home.
With United highly likely to maintain possession for a vast majority of the game, the Swiss side will look to catch United on the counter , hoping to catch the new defensive pair off guard.
Central to that plan will be former Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel .
Having made a good start to the season by scoring seven in as many games, Basel fans will be hoping his pace and physical attributes , not to mention his good connection with midfielder Taulant Xhaka, will come into play if the Swiss side has any hope of shocking the Reds.
Luke Shaw and Ashley Young to return ? :
Having recently played for U-23 sides after being sidelined due to injury for a long time, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young could potentially make a comeback to the playing squad . If there is one weak link to United’s excellent form in the League, it’s the left flank.
Daley Blind hasn’t impressed a lot and Matteo Darmian has never looked a Manchester United player in quite some time now, although in his defence left back isn’t his preferred position.
Having opted to not buy a left back in the summer transfer window, Jose will be hoping Shaw and Young, who is also capable of playing as a fullback, make a quick return to full fitness and it won’t be surprising to see at least one of them in the team sheet for the fixture against Basel.
The Paul Pogba Show :
Ander Herrera to start? Matic rested? Carrick to start? Whoever may start in the midfield, that’s for Jose to decide. However, expect Paul Pogba to be central to United’s game in today’s fixture.
Playing in a number 6 role, there’s no doubt about the fact that Paul Pogba’s excellent form has had a direct impact in United’s brilliant start to the campaign.
Having had to be content with playing in the Europa League in his first season for the Reds after making a comeback to Old Trafford, no one would be relishing the prospect of playing in the Champions League than the Frenchman. Expect a Paul Pogba show !
United approach to Champions league opener :
United fans as well as Mourinho know that United fell well short of expectations in spite of winning the League Cup and the Europa League. However, if it’s one thing that Mourinho knows well more than anything , it’s winning.
With his side sitting pretty at the top of the table after a blistering start to the season, there is no doubt about Mourinho’s ambitions to challenge and win all the possible competitions.
Although the calibre of oppositions will be much more than in the Europa League, Paul Pogba and co will be relishing the chance to compete against the best .
Exactly 50 years on since the famous United side became Champions of Europe in the 1967/1968 season, United fans will be hoping for a positive campaign in Europe and there is no better way to start than a victory at home against the Swiss side.