After missing out last season, United return to the Champions League with a visit from Swiss Champions FC Basel, having seen their perfect start to the campaign ended over the weekend
United’s winning start to the season was ended at Stoke on Saturday, but that result aside, the Red Devils have been impressive right through pre-season. The successful Europa League campaign should set the Manchester club up perfectly for a return to Europe’s top flight, where the chances of progressing to the last-16 has been aided by a relatively easy draw. However, the Red Devils should be wary of overconfidence after losing to Feyenoord, on their opening game of the Europa League.
FC Basel have hit form (after starting the season poorly) and currently sit third in the Swiss Super League – having won three games on the bounce, after two draws and a loss. The Swiss Champions have had some notable players over the years like Streller, the Xhaka and Degen brothers, Frei and Shaqiri. Former Norwich striker van Wolfswinkel is the most recognizable name in a team that is without a win in ten CL appearances, and finished bottom of their group last season.
United have faced the Swiss side four times in the past, with both teams claiming a single victory and sharing two stalemates (both coming at Old Trafford). The last time the teams met was in 2011, when Basel helped to dump United into the Europa League – following an abysmal UCL campaign that saw Fergie’s men win only two of their six group games. De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Young and Valencia are the surviving players from the last clash.
Jones and Bailly miss out through suspensions, while Fellaini is a doubt after picking up a slight injury during the international break. Young and Shaw have resumed first team training, but only the versatile winger has been confirmed in the squad. Zlatan and Rojo remain sidelined.
United have available for selection: D.d.Gea, Romero, J.Pereira, Lindelof, Smalling, Valencia, Blind, Shaw, Darmian, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Pogba, Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford and Lukaku.
Jose confirmed Smalling and Lindelof will fill in for the suspended duo, while also revealing de Gea will start in goal. Luke Shaw has played two reserve games and trained with the first-team, so he could play should Jose decide he is ready. Fresh from Darmian’s unconvincing performance at Stoke, Shaw or Young could replace the Italian. Blind is the most likely candidate however. Herrera also drops out and is replaced by Lingard. The England midfielder’s pace could be key to opening up the Swiss team. Mikki demonstrated his value in the European games last year and he is joined in attack by Martial who also looked sharp during his brief cameo at the weekend. Rashford gets a rest after much playing time for club and country. Lukaku’s continues to lead the line with the Belgian poised to make his CL bow. Pogba and Matic’s budding partnership should continue, with Herrera (or Carrick) expected to play some part.
Kick off: 7.45pm, 12th September 2017
Stadium: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
United should win the game comfortably against a team led by a rookie manager making his managerial debut in the competition. United to win 3-0 with Lukaku, Mkhitaryan and Pogba getting on the score sheet.
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