After barely managing to scrape through a cagey home win in the Premier League at the weekend, Manchester United aim to win consecutive games at Old Trafford for the first time this season. They’ll also want to redeem themselves after the humiliation suffered against Istanbul Basaksehir in their last Champions League game.
The Red Devils’ must’ve learnt some stern lessons – especially defensively – from that game. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side realizes that a win could virtually guarantee them a spot in the knockout stages, with PSG & RB Leipzig at each other’s throats elsewhere. It’s now up to them to secure qualification by proving their quality & shoving aside the stubborn Turkish side.
Manchester United Likely XI
Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Telles, McTominay, Pogba, Bruno, Van de Beek, Rashford, Cavani
Paul Pogba missed the game against West Brom due to an injury suffered in training, but OGS insisted that he could be back on Tuesday. Luke Shaw & Jesse Lingard are the absentees for Ole, who should make a number of changes for this game.
Istanbul Basaksehir Likely XI
Babacan, Rafael, Skrtel, Epureanu, Bolingoli-Mbombo, Topal, Visca, Ozcan, Chadli, Turuc, Ba
Istanbul will miss Mert Gunok & Danijel Aleksic, both who featured in the win over United but recently tested positive for Covid-19.
Manchester United vs Istanbul Basaksehir preview
The last time United played at home in the Champions League, they spectacularly trounced RB Leipzig 5-0. They’ll be looking for something similar on Tuesday against a side who will have no issues in parking the bus & annoying the hosts.
The Red Devils have to create their own luck against Istanbul and must be more innovative than they were last time around. Marcus Rashford’s form has dipped since that hattrick against Leipzig & he needs a big performance to get his confidence back. As long as he links up well with the sparky Alex Telles, Rashford should get enough space to create problems for Basaksehir – but has to be more clinical with finishing his chances in the final third.
Solskjaer will mostly play an attacking side knowing how much a win is necessary to United’s chances of solidifying a place into the next rounds. So we could see Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba & Donny van de Beek all starting together. Bruno & Pogba will be expected to be the creative beacon of the side, cutting open Istanbul’s rough shape with their delightful passes.
Van de Beek could start in an unusual right wing role. If he plays there, he’ll get enough freedom to use his excellent off-the-ball movement & open up scoring chances for his side. Edinson Cavani should get his first start for United knowing how disappointing Anthony Martial’s been recently and his own clever work around the penalty area could create a ring of unpredictability around United’s game.
The Red Devils definitely need to be more creative & less one-dimensional with their attacking pattern. Istanbul proved they could weather the storm when needed & even without some players, they’re still sturdy enough to frustrate the hosts. If United are defensively not careful enough, Demba Ba could cause nightmares again.
Solskjaer’s side must be more disciplined, willing to take risks to destabilize the visitors’ defensive shape and most importantly finish off their chances to get their revenge on the ‘minnows’ of the group.
Knowing United’s recent form at home, this should also be a cagey affair. But the Red Devils seem to get the job done when the pressure’s on them the most, so I expect them to grind out a 2-1 win & take control of the group.