Manchester United vs PSG preview: Ideal time to tackle Ligue 1 champions, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Last Updated: 12/02/19 5:28pm
Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side are facing Paris Saint-Germain at the perfect time as their outstanding run of form continues.
When the draw for this match was made in December, few gave Jose Mourinho's United much chance of advancing beyond the Champions League's last 16.
But United have been transformed since Solskjaer replaced the Portuguese, winning 10 and drawing one of his 11 games in charge.
"We've given ourselves the best possible opportunity because of the way we've come into this game," said Solskjaer ahead of Tuesday's first-leg tie at Old Trafford (kick-off 8pm).
"We're confident and we're looking like a team. If there was ever a time to go into big games, it's now."
United's surge under Solskjaer has seen them force their way into the Premier League's top four, but they remain unfancied in the Champions League.
That does not concern Solskjaer, however.
"I think the squad is very capable of winning against any opponent," he said.
"When we go into games confident as we are now, in form, we are looking forward to the game.
"We can't look too far ahead, we've got to look at PSG now and make sure we go through and take the next challenge as it comes.
"But I've been very pleased with the attitude. I've said to the boys, we have to keep working every single day.
"When we work hard, we work hard. When we have lighter training, we concentrate. Then we can improve and maybe surprise people."
Not all of PSG's considerable attacking talent will be on the pitch on Tuesday, however, with Edinson Cavani joining Neymar in the treatment room, while right-back Thomas Meunier is also ruled out.
"Of course any team that is missing players like Neymar, Cavani and Meunier will feel the effect," Solskjaer said.
"But it gives other players a chance and maybe they are more unpredictable for us with who they are going to play.
"When you've seen that front three for the whole season you know what to expect but this time around we're guessing a little bit."
Centre-back Victor Lindelof was able to train on Monday, meaning Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are United's only absentees with minor knocks.
Meanwhile, PSG are without forwards Cavani and Neymar, while Belgium right-back Meunier is also out with concussion.
However, having missed the last three weeks with an ankle injury, midfielder Marco Verratti is available after starting for the Ligue 1 champions against Bordeaux on the weekend.
- This will be the first competitive encounter between United and PSG. Four of the last five two-legged encounters between teams from England and France in the Champions League knockout phase have seen the French side progress
- No French team has ever beaten United away from home in European competition (D4 L10). In the Champions League, only two French sides have avoided defeat at Old Trafford: Monaco in March 1998 (1-1), Lille in October 2005 (0-0)
- PSG have won only one of their 10 away games in all competitions against English opposition (D4 L5). It was a 2-1 victory against Chelsea in March 2016 in the round of 16, the last time they progressed through a knockout round of the Champions League
- United have won only one of their last nine Champions League knockout games (D3 L5), it was against Olympiakos in March 2014 (3-0)
- PSG have reached the Champions League knockout stages for a seventh consecutive season, the longest current run after Real Madrid (22), Barcelona (15) and Bayern Munich (11). However, they have never progressed further than the quarter-finals in that time, dropping out at the round of 16 in each of the last two campaigns
- PSG scored more goals than any other team in the Champions League group stages this season (17 in six games)
When this draw came out, I gave Manchester United no hope - but now, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I think it could go either way.
United must take a lead into Paris, and Paul Pogba has been in immense form. He must do it on nights like these.
CHARLIE SAYS: 2-2 (11/1 with Sky Bet)