What to say about José Mourinho’s Manchester United? In a season themed with pressure, mistakes, and further pressure caused by said mistakes, there have been highlights.
Not least of which was United’s last performance and result in the Champions League. Prior to their second meeting with Juventus, the Italian side had played three, won three, scored six, and conceded none. A 2-1 win in Turin for the English side was both unexpected and relatively deserved.
It appears United have saved their best this season for the Champions League. Their 3-0 win over Young Boys in Switzerland belied their poor league form and they will hope for similar success at Old Trafford.
A recent defeat to Manchester City and dropped points against Crystal Palace will surely have had a demoralising and deflating effect on the side.
Their opponents are on the opposite side of the form pendulum. They are a faintly believable 26 points ahead of their nearest rival, FC Basel, in the Swiss Super League after only 15 games.
That being said, they’re rooted to the bottom of Group H in the Champions League. They need two wins from their last two games to have any hope of finishing in third which would open a route to the Europa League.
Based on the fairly recent evidence of their last head to head meeting in September, there should only be one winner here.
Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial did the damage and they’ve been two of United’s most dangerous players all season. Unfortunately for United fans, they and the majority of their team mates have been wildly inconsistent and this fact alone should encourage Young Boys.
It’s in attack that the Swiss side could inflict damage. On average they score an incredible 3.1 goals per game in their domestic league. Their closest challengers, FC Basel, were dismissed on a scoreline of 7-1.
This must be qualified with the fact they’ve managed just two in four games against European opposition in this Champions League campaign.
As has been evidenced frequently in recent months, Manchester United’s defence are not above a mistake here and there. They were caught out in wide channels on multiple occasions before Pogba smashed home the lead goal on 35 minutes.
It feels like little has changed since that game in September.
The home side will have to do without Victor Lindelof who picked up an groin injury last time out in the scoreless draw against Crystal Palace. Diego Dalot remains absent too. While Luke Shaw will likely come back into the match day squad after missing the weekend’s game through domestic suspension.
Defenders Jordan Lotomba and Gregory Wuthrich will miss out. While top scorer Guillaime Hoarau was withdrawn against Lugano in their last game and will have to pass a late fitness test before kick off. Sekou Sanogo is suspended after getting a red card against Valencia.
On paper, and in practice, United should have too much for Young Boys.
However very little seems to be going according to plan at Old Trafford at the moment.
It’s hard to see one of Martial, Pogba, Lukaku, or Rashford not finding a way past the Swiss Champions’ defence.
Equally, it’s not impossible to envisage Young Boys getting chances and scoring a goal.
Man Utd to win and both teams to score – 9/5