Group B leaders Manchester United can secure qualification to the knock-out stages with a win at home on Wednesday when the side will face Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven at Old Trafford. It’s been a weird season for United in that they look like they have weaknesses to address in every game from the outside but the way their season has gone so far, you wouldn’t understand why they are criticized so much in the media and even by some of the supporters. Just a point off the summit, the Red Devils have been hard to beat pretty much the whole season with the exception of the defeat at Arsenal, they have been mighty solid at the back. Louis Van Gaal knows how important it is for Man United to get as further in the competition as possible owing to the amount of the investment and a win on Wednesday can be crucial to that.
A win for PSV can take them to the top of the group and that should be the driving force for Philip Cocu and his high-flying Eindhoven side. The Dutch side came out on top quite unexpectedly in the reverse and while a similar result is not impossible altogether in England, they will have to be at their very best for long spells in the game if they are to break down a back five that has conceded the least number of goals in the Premier League. But the team have been prolific in the league having scored 14 goals in their last four games, including a 6-3 victory over De Graafschap and they sit four points behind leaders Ajax Amsterdam in the Dutch league. With that momentum, they should look to cause an upset rather than play for a draw from the word go, which should make for very interesting viewing.
Manchester United are facing a situation very similar to the one they did last season. An injury crisis of sorts where on Wednesday, they could be lining up without ten first-team regulars. Rooney, Martial, Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick were all out of contention during the weekend, while Herrera and Phil Jones were injured mid-game during the weekend. The good news for United is that Rooney could return to the lineup on Wednesday as he was only missing from last weekend’s squad due to illness, but Martial could still be kept on the sidelines.
The visitors have their own injury troubles as Menno Koch is still ruled out after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, while Jetro Willems and Maxime Lestienne are also expected to miss this week’s game.
Manchester United possible starting lineup: De Gea; Rojo, Blind, Smalling, Darmian; Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin; Depay, Lingard, Mata; Rooney
PSV Eindhoven possible starting lineup: Zoet; Arias, Moreno, Bruma, Brenet; Propper, Hendrix, Guardado; Narsingh, De Jong, Locadi
United had gone 641 minutes without conceding until Troy Deeney equalised from the spot for Watford FC on Saturday. Deeney then scored an own goal, giving Van Gaal’s men a 2-1 away win.
PSV last won in England in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 16 when Jefferson Farfán secured a 1-0 success at Tottenham Hotspur FC. Their overall record in England is W4 D2 L9.
Key Men Comparison
David De Gea (Manchester United) v Luciano Narsingh (PSV)
David De Gea has been the bedrock in Manchester United’s defence producing match-winning displays week in week out. His importance in this Manchester United side cannot be overstated enough and the Spaniard has struck a winning partnership with the back four now that the Red Devils have been as good at the back as they have ever been in the last five years or so. Not many teams in Europe can boast having a goalkeeper of his caliber which is why he can prove to be the difference in the next stages of the competition, where it really matters, provided they qualify.
Narsingh scored in the reverse when PSV downed Manchester United in the opening game-week of the Champions League proving they could go toe to toe even against the big boys in Europe, on their day. He’s scored thrice and created 2 more goals in the league in 13 appearances and is part of a successful trio in Philip Cocu’s side who should play an integral role in laying down the marker at Old Trafford.
Manchester United are heavy favorites on the back of their recent run in the league. They should just have enough to make it to the next round.
Manchester United 1-0 PSV Eindhoven.