|Man Utd To Knock Out PSG||9/4||Bet365|
|Man Utd To Win The Champions League||30/1||Paddy Power|
Times are good at Old Trafford with Manchester United fans delighted with the fact that their caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has won all seven of his opening games in all competitions.
His biggest test, against Tottenham at Wembley, was the result that reinforced assertions that the Norwegian has what it takes to become the permanent boss, and he put further emphasis on that by beating Brighton on Saturday.
While there are going to be the inevitable lost points along the way between now and the end of the season, fans of the Red Devils will be most interested to see how they bounce back from those situations as well as what calibre of team they are losing to.
Football is never a straightforward process and hiccups occur all the time, but Solskjaer has a superb run of fixtures to get his side raring to go for when Paris Saint-Germain come rolling into Manchester.
Could watch Manchester United's front three all day long. There's so much going on at all times, with players constantly interchanging. Shouldn't be changed at all. Solskjær has found the formula.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) January 13, 2019
Manchester United, who have been cut to 30/1 with Paddy Power to win the Champions League, are a club who have had prior experience under the great Sir Alex Ferguson of going the distance.
While that was over a decade ago, it has been made clear by Solskjaer that the Scotsman is firmly involved in one way or another on the training field – consulting on the decision-making of the team.
In their way are the Parisian giants. Knocked out in embarrassing fashion to Barcelona in 2017 by conceding six goals at Camp Nou, PSG have been rebuilding their image ever since and attempting to make it past the quarter-final stage for the first time under Qatari ownership.
The Red Devils are 11/5 to win the opening leg at Old Trafford with Coral and 5/2 to go to Paris with a draw with Bet365. The game in itself is likely to be decided on fine margins, with the pressure at its highest.
While a top four finish, 11/4 with the best bookies, would be the pinnacle of success that the Norwegian can achieve, fans are slightly optimistic – given the good performances their club have shown – they can overcome PSG.
What has arguably given them more hope is the fact that the Parisians have recently lost to EA Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue – a team who occupy last place in Ligue 1. Even with a smattering of stars in the form of Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Thiago Silva, Guingamp exploited their defensive weaknesses and found the back of the net twice to reach the semi-final.
PSG were stunned by Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday.— Omnisport (@OmnisportNews) January 10, 2019
Will Thomas Tuchel's men be ready to bounce back when they return to Ligue 1 action? pic.twitter.com/hKRx6qeCqa
Manchester United’s first port of call will be to nullify the balls into Neymar’s path, although the Brazilian is now a doubt for the clash after suffering a foot injury against Strasbourg.
If fit, he will likely start on the left wing, from which the 26-year-old regularly comes inside and occupies the number 10 role, finding space in between the lines and feeding Mbappé with through balls to unlock the defence. Although he can score at any given moment, Neymar has taken up a creative role in this PSG side which his team-mates rely on for their goal-scoring chances, so his potential absence is a boost for United.
Ander Herrera will most likely be tasked in keeping the Brazil international quiet, which will be no easy feat. However, the Spaniard has had previous requirements of doing similar to Eden Hazard, in which he has passed the test with flying colours.
If starting, Neymar will pose more of a threat than the Belgian, but if there’s one aspect to Herrera’s game that is so adored, it’s that he is a tenacious terrier – it is incredibly difficult to get out of his sight.
Like they showed against Spurs, Man Utd will look to launch counter attacks after sustaining attacking pressure from Paris Saint-Germain. With Paul Pogba at his effervescent and confident best, the Frenchman will guide passes into the wide areas and look to exploit the Parisian’s weaker flanks, using Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard’s superior speed.
In the space of 15 minutes, PSG went from comfortable to complete meltdown against Guingamp.
Thomas Tuchel’s side was cruising into the semi-final when young centre back Thilo Kehrer gave away a penalty that Marcus Thuram buried into the left-hand corner. The second and final goal that put an end to Paris Saint-Germain’s run in the Coupe de la Ligue was from the penalty spot once more.
In fact, Tuchel’s defence conceded three penalties in the space of 90 minutes, which will have been noted by Man United’s analysts. Bet365 offer an industry-best 8/1 for United to score a penalty in the first leg.
What are your feelings right now?— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) January 15, 2019
As seen in previous games – with the most famous one coming against Barcelona – the Parisians have a reputation of panicking in the dying moments and making unforced errors, allowing inferior teams, like Guingamp, to take advantage and put them to the sword.
There will be chances littered for both sides with the defences on show, but Manchester United’s fans will feel a lot more comfortable knowing they have an in-form David de Gea between the sticks. While Gianluigi Buffon is a legend of the game, the 40-year-old has featured erratically this season and is without regular match rhythm.
This is now Solskjaer’s biggest test as Manchester United manager and one in which he will be examined on by the powers that be in the board room.
From the bookmakers' point of view, the tie is leaning in PSG’s favour – they are 2/7 to qualify for the quarter-final with Ladbrokes – but the Red Devils, with their newfound spirit and togetherness, have a fantastic chance to upset the odds (9/2).