Three reasons Man United could pull off a CL miracle at PSG
Can Solskjaer’s men overcome biggest test yet?
Scorer of perhaps the most iconic goal in Champions League history, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows more than a bit about pulling off a Manchester United miracle in Europe.
And the man nicknamed ‘the Baby-Faced Assassin’ is quickly becoming as popular in the Old Trafford dugout as he was in the club’s strikeforce two decades ago.
The one blot on his copybook so far was United’s 2-0 home defeat in the CL round of 16 to Paris Saint Germain. That’s seen them priced at 12/1 to reach the quarter finals. But there’s reason for United fans to be hopeful of a dramatic turnaround…
Lukaku finding his form again
There’s been no stopping Romelu Lukaku in the last week. The Belgian powerhouse has scored four times in United’s previous two games, with a pair of ruthless displays.
While power and aerial presence are the 25-year-old’s most noted qualities, he showed he’s more than capable of silky footwork and clinical finishing last weekend.
Lukaku’s brace against Southampton was hugely impressive. His first included a sublime piece of skill which turned Jan Bednarek inside out, before an arrowed strike. The second – also on his right foot – was neatly curled home first-time.
PSG’s defence are undoubtedly susceptible. While they’re fine against largely mediocre Ligue 1 opposition, it’s a very different story in Europe. They’ve kept a single clean sheet in their last 11 Champions League outings.
With Lukaku adding sweet finishing and close control to his more industrious qualities, he could be a nightmare for the home defence. We go 14/5 he scores Anytime, while the United hitman is 25/1 to bag a third brace on the spin.
They could dominate out wide
If there’s one gripe the Old Trafford faithful have had with Solskjaer up to now, it’s been the selection of Ashley Young over new fan-favourite Diogo Dalot.
Despite grabbing a goal at Selhurst Park last week, the club captain’s displays this term have ranged from solid to error-strewn. And with an early goal vital at the Parc des Princes, this should be Dalot’s game.
The Portuguese prodigy has bagged two assists in his last four outings, and has been a livewire on the right flank – firing in crosses and outpacing opponents.
With the ever-improving Luke Shaw on the other side, PSG could be in for a torrid evening. The first leg showed 35-year-old Dani Alves can be stretched on United’s left wing, and that could prove a very profitable avenue.
There’s certainly been plenty of fighting talk from Shaw. The England international has told media ahead of this clash: “We have to pull off something special, but I feel that we’re capable of it.”
The ‘Comeback Kings’ tag fits again
There’s no doubting PSG looked the more assured side in the first leg – and boast a higher proportion of star names. But in Ligue 1, where they’re yet to lose this season, Les Parisiens haven’t had to develop any grit or resilience.
They’ve conceded the first goal in three of the last eight CL games, going on to lose two and draw the other. As for United, they’ve bounced back exceptionally in games under Solskjaer.
As well as coming from behind to win against Southampton, United recovered from a 2-0 deficit against Burnley to somehow recover a point. As for the recent 0-0 draw with Liverpool, that clean sheet was somehow achieved despite a trio of first-half injuries.
Injury woes dented United’s momentum in a first leg they started quite strongly. If they can begin brightly in Paris and avoid further injuries, you just never know…
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