5 talking points ahead of Manchester United’s game with PSG

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Ahead of the last-16 second leg at Parc des Princes, Press Association Sport looks at five of the main talking points.

1. Can United make history?

Presnel Kimpembe scored in the first leg for PSG
Presnel Kimpembe scored in the first leg for PSG (Mike Egerton/PA)

Believe it or not, the 2-0 first leg defeat to PSG was United’s heaviest ever home loss in European competition. Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe did the damage at Old Trafford last month and leave things looking bleak for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. UEFA research shows that of the 106 teams that have previously secured a 2-0 first-leg away win in European Cup history, all 106 have made it through. Furthermore, United have never come back from a first-leg home defeat to win the tie in UEFA competition.

2. Will PSG bottle it?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pointed to PSG crumbling in Europe before
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pointed to PSG crumbling in Europe before (Michel Euler/AP)

The French side certainly showed enough at Old Trafford to worry United, although Solskjaer was quick to point to their soft underbelly in his pre-match press conference. “I don’t want to call it strange, but last year Juventus lost 3-0 at home against Real Madrid and suddenly they were 3-0 up after 90 minutes against Madrid away,” the Norwegian boss said. “The year before that, PSG against Barcelona. We all remember those results.” Many of the players remain from the PSG side that won their last-16 clash with Barca 4-0 at home, only to fall to a 6-1 loss in the second leg and bow out. Gianluigi Buffon was in goal for the aforementioned Juventus match, too, and United will be hoping doubt creeps in again.

3. United down to the bare bones

Paul Pogba is one of a number of absentees for United
Paul Pogba is one of a number of absentees for Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

If United’s challenge was not hard enough in the French capital, they arrive without 10 players. Paul Pogba’s red card at the end of the first leg compounded the loss and ruled him out of the Parc des Princes clash, which fellow midfielders Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata will also miss. The absence of Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian diminishes Solskjaer’s defensive options, while in attack Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez are out through injury. Solskjaer remains upbeat about the options at his disposal, but the absentees are far from ideal.

4. Will a new star emerge?

Marcus Rashford announced himself as a Manchester United player in European competition
Marcus Rashford announced himself as a United player in European competition (Adam Davy/PA)

The injuries could offer a new crop of players the chance to shine. Three years on from relative unknown Marcus Rashford bursting onto the scene in a European match, the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner are among those hoping to make their mark. All three have made their debuts, unlike fellow talented teenagers Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams. The latter was as surprised as anyone with his inclusion in the 20-man squad and much is expected of 17-year-old Greenwood.

Can United stop Mbappe and Co?

Manchester United will agve to stop Kylian Mbappe
United will have to stop Kylian Mbappe (Martin Rickett/PA)

Even without Edinson Cavani and Neymar, PSG managed to give United a headache at Old Trafford last month. Mbappe’s pace and directness were too much, while Angel Di Maria relished the chance to get one over his former side. Cavani has not yet returned to action but trained on the eve of the second leg, meaning United may have another challenge to contend with in the French capital. Solskjaer has underlined the importance of scoring the first goal on Wednesday night, but PSG’s attacking options make that easier said than done.



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