Man United return back to the UEFA Champions League after a year out where they should belong.
After playing in the qualification play-off round against Club Brugge, United find themselves in Group B with PSV, Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow. Being in Europe’s elite competition is where United are known for and with their global status around the world, fans expect them to challenge in the calibre of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and Juventus. The week nights of European football makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when the theme is played before kick-off.
The United team will be in high hopes as they beat arch rivals Liverpool on the weekend which showed they can play without Rooney as well as setting the stage for Martial with his debut goal. His run to go at defenders and control of the ball was direct and showed he was not lacking movement and could play as a lone striker. The level of performance was high quality with the midfield controlling and guarding the ball to maintain pressure on the opposition. The first goal was well practiced and Blind took it well. Even though it was a great win, it is to say, it’s good to have De Gea back which brings confidence to team who know they have a top keeper who will save points.
As Van Gaal men travel to Philips Stadion, it is a return for Memphis who moved to Old Trafford from Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. Managed by Phillip Cocu, who himself has plenty of Champions League experience, looks to be brave and give Dutch football something to cheer about. The stakes are high and every manager and player will want to shine on the big stage. Can PSV adjust to Champions League compared to Europa League? They certainly have individual talent to upset opponents even with some of their players are taken to other European clubs.
What they Red Devil’s manager will be looking to aim for is an away win and reach 10 points to secure a place in the knock out stages. It’s fairly a group where they can earn three wins from six games. From what we have seen against Club Brugge in performance, it is very dominating with possession and building up pressure off the ball. This sort of style is used in Champions League and a lot of other teams benefit from being cautious when defending but having flair upfront to counter attack.
United will be without club captain Rooney who has been ruled out through injury. Phil Jones remains out with a blood clot. So it looks like the same team that faced Liverpool. It is unlikely Martial will start as he settles at United so Fellaini could keep his place. Memphis will need to improve his performance otherwise Young will be looking to take his place as he was an instant impact to the game. One thing to mention, Schweinsteiger looks composed in his role and seeks to create space wherever he is. This makes it easier for Carrick or Schneiderlin to defend knowing there is another player going forward. An away draw is sometimes celebrated like a win, the home teams have the advantage in the group stages and being the first fixture, both teams will want to make an impression.
Possible starting XI:
PSV; Zoet, Arias, Bruma, Moreno, Brenet, Hendrix, Guardado, Propper, Narsingh, De Jong, Lestienne.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Herrera, Memphis, Fellaini.