Manchester United couldn't pull off the impossible, could they?
Image Via: Wikimedia Commons/Валерий Дед Used under Creative Commons.
The atmosphere around Old Trafford has changed. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought the happiness back to Manchester United. In around three months, there is just one blot on the Baby Faced Assassin's Red Devils resume; a resounding home loss to Paris Saint-Germain.
United were humbled by Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria and some brilliantly drawn up tactics from their manager Thomas Tuchel. The good thing about knockout European competition? There's always a second leg. Solskjaer has to learn, adapt and adjust; although his task has been made far harder due to injuries decimating the playing squad.
There are youngsters galore heading to Paris for the return fixture, but nobody is expecting United to progress. I find it alarming that fans are already writing the Red Devils off, though, with some supporters actually wanting the club to prioritise the Premier League game against Arsenal this weekend...
I've always held the opinion that 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline in football. PSG could get comfortable, they may begin to take it easy, and if Solskjaer's men can score early, then they're right back into the tie. Sure, things will have to change from the Old Trafford game, but this is a United team who have enjoyed more success on the road than they have at home. Remarkably, Solskjaer has mastered victories in each of his away games so far. He'll need to continue that impressive run to give his side any chance at earning a place in the Champions League quarter-final here.
After back-to-back wins, confidence is high in that United dressing room. They've gone on the road and beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. All are elite-level European sides. This game is about belief, they've proven their capabilities if the Red Devils play well, they do have the assets that can hurt an excellent PSG team.
Perhaps the youthful exuberance is what can lift this team through the injuries. Just how much will PSG officials know about the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood? The surprise factor could definitely play its role, although that would be an awful lot of pressure to put on these teenage shoulders.
In the home leg, losing Paul Pogba to suspension is the real killer blow. Tuchel marked the Frenchman completely out of the game last time around and eventually, that led to frustration. Replacing that creativity is something Solskjaer simply has to do, while getting said replacement on the ball as often as possible.
Yes, it's unlikely, but it's by no means impossible. Just look at what FC Barcelona did to PSG two years ago. The French giants were 4-0 up from the first leg. They'd lose the return match 6-1 and be dumped out in what was a huge upset. United's task is half as big, although granted, they don't have the brilliance of Lionel Messi to call upon...
Honestly, United will probably come up short but you can bet your bottom dollar that they'll give it a right good go. With pace on the counter-attack and a little bit of luck, you just never know...