With only a week left before the 1st leg of the Champions League 1/8-finals, we will be checking out the Manchester United v Paris Saint Germain match which will take place on February 12th at Old Trafford. Since the announcement of the pair, a lot has changed in the days leading to the February 12th, and with that, we must ask ourselves, can Manchester United win against the French Champions and advance into the quarterfinals?
Looking back at the end of December, Manchester United were offered odds of 3.44 to advance, while PSG were considered heavy favourites with only 1.35. As of the start of February, the odds have shifted. Manchester United are offered odds of 2.69 to advance, and PSG are 1.50. While PSG is still considered a favourite to advance, there are some doubts, so let’s check why is that so and what are factors that are the cause of doubt.
First of all, PSG will miss Neymar in both of the fixtures against Manchester United due to an ankle injury he suffered against Strasbourg on January 23rd. After a careful inspection of medical experts, it’s now clear that Neymar Jr. is not expected to return to the fields for at least 10 weeks, which ultimately means Neymar will not be able to play against Manchester United in the Champions League this season. While PSG does have a strong team with plenty of good players, the absence of Neymar who has scored 13 goals in 13 appearances will surely be felt.
Another thing that might not seem like a “big deal” is the fact that PSG has just recently lost their first league match of the season against Lyon. Yes, it’s only 1 match and PSG are still comfortably sitting at the top of the league with a 10-point lead in front of Lille, despite playing 2 fewer games, BUT it’s a defeat that ended their “perfect season”. This on its own will surely have an effect on PSG morale before heading to England for the 1st leg of the Champions League. Of course, their problems don’t end here. In addition to Neymar, PSG will also miss Diarra. On the bright side, Veratti is back training with the PSG after suffering a sprained ankle against Guingamp last month, which gives PSG a big boost ahead of their clash against Manchester United. With the Italian midfielder back with the squad the issue of finding a suitable midfielder to replace him is gone, which is good news for the French champions.
Manchester United on the other side saw a huge drop in odds for them to win the Champions League since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over for Jose Mourinho as the head coach. But first, they need to overcome PSG, which might sound easier than it is. There is no doubt United are performing much better under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, winning 9/10 matches under their new coach in all competitions. With the recent defeat of PSG against Lyon, Manchester United surely got a slight morale boost, as they saw PSG can be defeated. Despite that, Manchester United are still fairly considered an underdog. Yes, PSG will miss 2 of their players and yes, they have lost to Lyon, but as of now, PSG are considered a strong competitor to go a long way in the Champions League.
In conclusion, both sides are considered football giants, and while both had their ups and downs, they are both without a doubt just as capable of winning as well as losing to their opponents. In the first match between the two sides, I see Manchester United with a slight advantage, solely because they will be playing in England, however, despite missing players PSG will put up a tough fight and I would not be surprised if this match ends in a draw or even a win for the French side. If we draw a line, Manchester United might be a bit overrated at the moment. They are on a good run of 9 wins in the last 10 games and seemingly players are happier under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but that alone won’t be enough to stand up against PSG. Nonetheless it should be an interesting match between Manchester United and PSG, but in the end, I would put my money on the Paris Saint Germain to advance into the next round.