It is the moment all United fans have been waiting for: the much anticipated return of the Red Devils to the Champions League.
When comparisons are drawn between Manchester United’s performance in the first half and second half against Liverpool, it can be gauged that there might be some changes prior to the game against PSV Eindhoven. The introduction of Ashley Young, the failed experiment of Marouane Fellaini as a number nine and of course the impact of young Anthony Martial will have left their mark on Louis van Gaal. The question is, will he stick to his methodology or gamble on the more direct, pacy style that put Liverpool in trouble?
Now if he were to remain true to the XI that started at the weekend, United would be approaching the game in a more measured manner. The possession based style that dominated the first half against Liverpool was one that gave United tremendous control in the game, with very little penetration.
No doubt the Red Devils’ group-stage calendar starts with a difficult trip to PSV Eindhoven. To qualify, many pundits say you must win your home games and avoid defeat on the road – which is all well and good, but this is Manchester United and victory is most definitely the aim.
Wayne Rooney will be missing in the game against PSV Eindhoven as he is suffering from an injury. He did not play the game against Liverpool either. Phil Jones remains injured as well. It has often been said that van Gaal’s methodology would be more suited to European football than the rigours of the Premier League and certainly, going to Eindhoven and controlling the tempo of the game and limiting PSV to as few chances as Liverpool had in that first 45 minutes could constitute a perfect European performance away from home. But it was a little flat and lacked a little spark.
The Eredivisie champions are unbeaten in six matches this term and recorded an impressive 6-0 win at Cambuur on Saturday, so they’re in fine form. Florian Josefzoon and Jetro Willems continue being injured and will not play on Tuesday’s game.
- Dutch champions PSV are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2008/09.
- In last season’s UEFA Europa League, they reached the round of 32 before losing to Zenit St. Petersburg.
- Cocu’s side are 12 games unbeaten in all competitions, winning 6-0 against SC Cambuur on Saturday.
- Memphis Depay makes a swift return to his old stamping ground when his Manchester United side visit PSV Eindhoven – the club he left in the summer.
- Depay’s return is not the only source of intrigue in a contest which pits home coach Phillip Cocu against Louis van Gaal, a man he played under for both FC Barcelona and the Netherlands.
- United are back in the UEFA Champions League after a season’s exile. Fourth in the 2014/15 Premier League, they beat Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate in last month’s play-off round to secure their participation.
LEAGUE HEAD TO HEAD*
No stats have been provided since there have been only 4 games among the two teams. The last meeting was in 18th October 2000 for the UEFA Champions League, which Manchester United won 3-1.
MANCHESTER UNITED: MEMPHIS DEPAY
Memphis Depay joined from PSV and he’ll no doubt want to impress against his former employers. Louis van Gaal also has obvious links to Holland and the Dutchman admits he has “many friends” at PSV, including opposition boss Phillip Cocu. He was a player in Van Gaal’s Barcelona (1998–2000, 2002–03) and Netherlands (2000–01) teams, so expect a warm exchange in the dug-out. Also, according to The Mirror, former PSV coach Aad de Mos reckons that Depay – and Dutch international team-mate Daley Blind – are in for a tough evening.
De Mos said: “Depay is not going to get one bit of joy out of his return to Holland. Santiago Arias, the Mexican international defender who knows him inside out, is going to eat him raw.”
This claim must add more firepower to Depay and ignite his desire to play exceedingly well. His pace, like always, is sure to help him out.
PSV EINDHOVEN: LUUK DE JONG
De Jong might have been ruled out as a flop in the EPL during his stint at Newcastle United. But now, playing as a striker at PSV Eindhoven, De Jong says that he is extremely happy and indeed, his stats have improved a lot. In fact, he is clearly stated as one of the threats Manchester United need to watch out for. According to The Mirror, De Jong said: “Of course, I want to show the world what I am like as a striker, particularly against a club like Manchester United.”
United will undoubtedly be on a high after winning 3-1 against arch-rivals Liverpool. On the other hand, PSV Eindhoven remain unbeaten for their last 12 games. The match is sure to be a close one, and my prediction is a 2-1 victory for Manchester United.