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Champions League can be the perfect kick-starter for Victor Lindelof

Tuesday 12th September 2017
Manchester United have started the season in fine form and sit top of the Premier League, above their city rivals on goal difference. The Red Devils will now turn their attention to Europe as they return to the Champions League against Basel on Tuesday, with Victor Lindelof looking to make his presence known.

During the summer transfer window, Jose Mourinho made the addition of two of his former players in Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku, who have both hit the ground running at Old Trafford in unison with United's strong start. However, another summer signing is yet to be given the chance to light up the theatre of dreams. Victor Lindelof was the first new face to arrive in the recent window and as of yet has made one singular appearance, in the Super Cup loss to Real Madrid. The Swedish centre back has seemingly been looked at by Mourinho as a player to take his time with and ease him into the rough and tumble of English football after plying his trade in Portugal with Benfica up until now. At just 23, Lindelof is certainly the right age for a long term plan but in terms of short term, he will be looking to show what he is about in United's Champions League fixtures.
Mourinho confirmed in his Monday afternoon press conference that Lindelof would be handed a start alongside Chris Smalling at the heart of the defence and subsequently make his Old Trafford debut. Whilst this may seem like a forced change due to the suspensions of both Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, who have been the first choice partnership so far this campaign, the Portuguese boss insisted that he would be happy to play both Lindelof and Smalling even if his choice of selection was at full capacity.

Mourinho has been both protective and complimentary of Lindelof since his arrival and claimed from the very start that he would be slowly introduced to English football, similar to Henrikh Mkhitaryan was last season after his arrival for Borussia Dortmund before cementing himself as a starter. Much like his Armenian club-mate, Lindelof's chances will firstly come in Europe and he will be hoping to prove his worth against Basel in a bid to perhaps remain in United's European first team before being handed a Premier League bow.

Naturally, Mourinho will set no timescale on his new Swedish centre half being ready to cut his Premier League teeth, with Bailly, Jones and Smalling all at his disposal he has the luxury of bedding Lindelof in providing the other three defenders stay fit, which Jones and Smalling are notoriously not the best at. But as things stand he can afford to work on Lindelof as he wishes and both parties can use the Champions League matches as the perfect outlet for game time. The style of play will be much more of what Lindelof is used to and ironically United have drawn his former team Benfica in the group stage draw to add a little edge to the games. He will surely be desperate to play home and away against his former team and will be fancied to perform well against a side he knows inside and out.

The start of the Champions League campaign is always an exciting one and for Manchester United it will be a return to a competition they feel they should always be a part of after a few seasons of struggling to qualify. Both United and Lindelof will be keen to put in a good performance against Basel on Tuesday night and make a perfect start to the European season at Old Trafford.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.

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