What the papers say
Whisper it – and try at least for a while to ignore the enormous Brazilian ego that has temporarily vacated the room – but might Paris Saint-Germain finally have worked it out? The difference between their performances at Anfield in September and at Old Trafford on Tuesday could hardly have been more pronounced. Perhaps this PSG are contenders after all.
Certain issues, it’s true, remain. Gianluigi Buffon is 41. However agile and dominant he remains, he has the feet of a goalkeeper who grew up in the 90s; a sweeper-keeper he is not and, in a world in which almost everybody presses, that restricts how high the defensive line can play while in turn making PSG susceptible to opponents who press them.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjær urged his players to raise their game after suffering his first defeat as Manchester United manager against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.Continue reading...
• ‘This is a reality check for us,’ says Solskjær after PSG defeat
• United may face Uefa action over bottle thrown on pitch
Ole Gunnar Solskjær said Manchester United cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after Paris Saint-Germain inflicted a first defeat of his caretaker tenure.
Asked what his message to the players was after a 2-0 defeat that was United’s heaviest at home in European competition, Solskjær looked forward to their next game, in the FA Cup on Monday, saying: “Not to be sorry for themselves. Anyone who feels sorry for themselves probably won’t play against Chelsea.Continue reading...
For all the complexities of elite sport, some things don’t change. In his novel End Zone, Don DeLillo obsesses about the speed of NFL running backs. “Speed is the last excitement left,” he writes. “The one thing we haven’t used up, still naked in its potential.”
In which case DeLillo could do a lot worse than have a peek at Kylian Mbappé, who glided around the edges at Old Trafford for half an hour; who scored a decisive second-half goal; and who by the end had provided some moments of exhilaration so natural and easy in among the collisions you could almost feel the stadium goggling each time he began to glide away.Continue reading...
David de Gea Untroubled in early stages and then came into his own, saving United from being totally out of tie. 8Continue reading...
For Manchester United, perhaps it was a reality check, a reminder of their imperfections and how tough it can be at the highest level of European football. This was the night Ole Gunnar Solskjær could not find any of the magic that has seen him pass every other test with distinction. Outscored, outpassed and outsung – they were well beaten and it will need something remarkable if they can save themselves at Parc des Princes in three weeks’ time.
Unfortunately for Solskjaer, who could really see them pulling off that kind of escapology act on the evidence of this tie? Paris Saint-Germain took a while to realise they were the superior side but once the penny dropped, the imbalance throughout the second half was considerable, culminating in Paul Pogba’s late red card for his second bookable challenge.Continue reading...
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - relaxed, smiling, impressive and thoroughly likeable as always - speaks to BT Sport. “I don’t think we could have been in a better frame of mind going into this game, or in better form. So we are looking forward to it. Let’s hope we can have a good start, that’s going to be important. We have prepared without Neymar, Cavani and Meunier, but I think the crowd would have loved to see those players and as players you’d rather play against the best ones, we’d have enjoyed their best team being out there. Bailly and Lindelof have done well together, and against Mbappe they will have to be at the top of their game. We need to be clinical. It’s important for us to get to Paris with the chance to go through.”
VAR will be used for the first time in the Champions League tonight. The whole kit and caboodle is set up in the back of a Transit van in the Old Trafford car park, which will send a cold shiver down the spine of anyone who sat through ITV early-evening light-entertainment show The Premiership back in the day. Uefa refereeing bigwig Hugh Dallas is interviewed in the truck by BT Sport, brandishing a leaflet which explains using words and pretty pictures that the VAR team will “constantly check for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: goals, incidents in the penalty area, red cards, and mistaken identity.” So there you have it. Incidentally, the feed cut out and the screen went to black exactly 16.3 seconds into the interview. Hopefully that’s not a harbinger of things to come.
Pennant watch. So what will Ashley Young and Thiago Silva be swapping when they shake hands before kick off? Manchester United’s commemorative flag is painstakingly embroidered, right down to a ® next to the crest, surely an unnecessary legal safeguard on what is essentially a bespoke gift to another football club. A quality item, though don’t be pulling at that loose thread at the bottom of the Champions League logo, or the whole thing might unravel. (Unless that’s another ®, in which case pick away.)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes five changes to the Manchester United team named at Fulham on Saturday. In come Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford; they replace Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku.
Thomas Tuchel makes six changes to the PSG XI selected for the scrap against Bordeaux in Ligue 1 at the weekend. Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier picked up injuries; they’re replaced by Thilo Kehrer and Kylian Mbappe. Meanwhile Stanley N’Soki, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby make way for Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria, Juan Bernat and Julian Draxler.
Manchester United: de Gea, Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Jones, Sanchez, Mata, Lukaku, Fred, Dalot.
Paris Saint-Germain: Buffon, Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti, Marquinhos, Dani Alves, Draxler, Di Maria, Mbappe.
Subs: Areola, Paredes, Choupo-Moting, Kurzawa, Nkunku, Diaby, Dagba.
The world was a different place back on December 17. Jose Mourinho was still manager of Manchester United, for another 24 hours anyway, and when the draw for the Champions League Round of 16 was made, it looked all over for the three-time winners. They’d been paired with Paris St Germain, going great guns while United were misfiring badly. A humbling looked a very real possibility.
But a couple of months on, everything has changed. Ole Gunnar Solsjkær has restored United’s self-belief in spectacular style, winning 11 of his first 12 games as interim boss. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial are purring. PSG meanwhile are in the midst of an injury crisis. Edinson Cavani isn’t expected to shake off a hip problem, Thomas Meunier is concussed, and Neymar is out with a broken metatarsal. And their form suddenly isn’t all that: they’ve recently lost their first league game of the season, to Lyon, and required extra time to get past third-tier Villefranche-Beaujolais in the cup.Continue reading...
Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Dani Alves and Neymar are just the latest Brazilian players to have found a home in Paris
The build-up to PSG’s tie against Manchester United in the Champions League has centred around a player who is unlikely to even set foot on the pitch in either leg. Such is life with Neymar, a continual source of histrionics wrapped up in a soap opera inside a melodrama. His latest metatarsal drama has inflicted a sense of angst on the PSG camp and perpetuated the creeping sense that, for all the club’s bountiful array of playing talent, they depend to an unhealthy degree on the availability of their precocious Brazilian star.
There is some precedent here as PSG have long had a symbiotic relationship with Brazilian footballers. Indeed, were Neymar more inclined towards reflecting on the long and fruitful association his compatriots have enjoyed with PSG than personal brand building, he would have chosen 33 as his squad number rather than the predictable 10. When he and Dani Alves arrived in the French capital in 2017, the pair became the 32nd and 33rd boys from Brazil to have worn a PSG shirt since the club’s formation in 1971.Continue reading...
• Kylian Mbappé will shoulder responsibility for goals
Thomas Tuchel has warned Manchester United that attacking play is in Paris Saint-Germain’s “DNA”, the manager insisting the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani will not alter their style.
The French champions meet United in Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 first legat Old Trafford without two of their vaunted front three due to injury. Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, has a foot problem, Cavani a hip injury. This means extra onus on Kylian Mbappé, the third member of the attack.Continue reading...
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was again note-perfect when stating it has been too long since a great European night for Manchester United at Old Trafford.
After 10 wins in 11 games under their interim manager, United supporters are enjoying the ride and the attacking style of play he has brought back to the club. In relishing the prospect of United’s first ever meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg, Solskjær was once more in tune with those in the stands. Yet his populist act is backed up by a real sense that PSG can be eliminated from the competition.Continue reading...
• ‘I don’t think we could be in a better frame of mind’
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United can make a surprise tilt for Champions League glory as his team prepare to face Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s last-16 first leg at Old Trafford.
United’s best recent performance in Europe’s blue riband club competition came five years ago when, under David Moyes, they reached the quarter-finals, having last played in the final when losing to Barcelona in 2011.
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Sarri is heading into Chelsea danger zone, Martial is showing up Mourinho’s poor judgment and is Mee ready for England?
Maurizio Sarri is heading into the shark-infested waters that did for Luiz Felipe Scolari and André Villas-Boas, who were sacked midway through their first seasons in charge of Chelsea. They were removed by Roman Abramovich once his team’s place in the following season’s Champions League was endangered and this weekend ended with Manchester United in fourth spot. Villas-Boas lost his job on 4 March 2012 while Scolari departed on 9 February 2009. At least Sarri has now lasted longer than the Brazilian, but ‘Sarriball’ has lately looked as poor a fit for Chelsea as his laissez-faire attitude and Villas-Boas’s overly methodical stratagems. Sarri’s displacement of N’Golo Kanté to play everything through Jorginho and the cold shoulders given to youngsters such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek may end up being his deepest Chelsea legacies. John Brewin
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Caretaker manager believes his players can beat anyone at the moment, including the Neymar-less French giants
The Champions League resumes on Tuesday, bringing with it the latest instalment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s bid to rejuvenate Manchester United to such an extent that he will be impossible to overlook at the end of the season.
Paris Saint-Germain will arguably present the toughest test of Solskjær’s caretaker period, although United’s league form is better than that of their opponents at the moment. Neymar is out injured and the French side did not look all that imperious when last seen in England at Anfield in September.Continue reading...
Fulham were the perfect opponents for a team hoping not to expend any unnecessary energy before facing Paris Saint-Germain. Manchester United did not have to be at their dashing best to continue their stunning resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, but they still could have scored a hatful as they regained a spot in the top four for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.
They settled for three in the end and Solskjær was able to keep Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the bench before United welcome PSG to Old Trafford for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie on Tuesday night. A brace from Paul Pogba and a sensational solo goal from Anthony Martial were enough for the Premier League’s form side, who have picked up 25 points from nine games since replacing José Mourinho with Solskjær in December.Continue reading...
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Ole speaks to his old team-mate Gary Neville on Sky. “A couple of changes had to be made. Marcus Rashford has had a dead leg against Leicester, Victor Lindelof is a slight concern but hopefully he’ll be OK for Tuesday. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones did really well against Aleksandar Mitrovic last time, and we felt this is going to be a fight in the box with him so we put them in there. When we came in, we were way behind top four. So if you get the chance to take the three points and jump in, see what happens with City and Chelsea tomorrow, it’s an important game for us today. We have to stand up and be resilient, it will be tough today. There is no complacency. There is no secret to playing football: you have to enjoy yourself, and you need good players that are able to express themselves. Work hard, stay together. It’s simple.” It’s a simple set-up for the self-aware Neville, who cracks wise that “it wasn’t simple for me at Valencia when I tried that!” Hearty laughs and slaps on the back, and the old pals are off their separate ways.
Both teams have had a nice week off to relax and recuperate. Fulham come off the back of a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace, and make two changes to the team named for that one. Luciano Vietto and Andre Schurrle take the places of Tom Cairney and Cyrus Christie, both of whom drop to the bench.
Manchester United make six changes to the team selected for the 1-0 victory at Leicester City, with PSG on Tuesday night no doubt in mind. Diogo Dalot, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial are in; Ashley Young, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford step down.
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Odoi, Le Marchand, Ream, Bryan, Chambers, Seri, Babel, Schurrle, Vietto, Mitrovic.
Subs: Ryan Sessegnon, Kebano, Cairney, Ayite, Christie, Zambo, Ramirez.
Manchester United: de Gea, Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Sanchez, Rashford, Lingard, Young, Romero, McTominay.
This is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 11th match as interim manager of Manchester United Football Club. So far during his astonishing reign, United have won nine games, and staged a late two-goal comeback in the other fixture played. It’s fair to say they’re on a roll; relegation haunted Fulham, who have lost four of their last five Premier League matches, have it all to do this lunchtime.
As if current form doesn’t paint a bad enough picture for the Cottagers, the head-to-head record is an appalling sight as well. They’ve lost eight of their last nine matches against United to an aggregate score of 25-7. In the Premier League era, they’ve lost 19 times to the Red Devils, winning just the three. They’ve already been whacked 4-1 by them this season, and that was when the shackles were very much still on, during the miserablist reign of Jose Mourinho.Continue reading...
Fulham have eight points from their past eight games and if they continue like that for the rest of the season, they would finish on 30 points, which is unlikely to be enough to stay up. So Claudio Ranieri’s need for victories is urgent but they face Manchester United, who have dropped only two points since José Mourinho was sacked. Ranieri’s team may well find themselves behind against Marcus Rashford and company, much as they did against Brighton last week. However, they recovered famously to win 4-2. Ranieri will need that sort of spirit again to get anything against the Premier League’s most in-form side. Conrad Leach
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• Norwegian pleased Phil Jones has signed new deal
Ole Gunnar Solskjær says he has a “vision” of where Manchester United should be in two years if he is appointed as the permanent manager.
The Norwegian is undefeated in his 10 matches as interim manager, winning nine. Although the decision regarding who will become José Mourinho’s full-time successor is expected in the close season, Solskjær can picture where he would want United to be.Continue reading...
The Italian coach arrived in November but has yet to make his ideas count, with his team now seven points from safety
Claudio Ranieri is a man in a hurry. Fulham’s manager will be unhappy if he sees his team playing like a bad Manchester City tribute act for the rest of the season. With Premier League survival on the line, the Italian is running out of patience. Questions about his philosophy elicit a measured but pointed response and Ranieri’s message was clear before Fulham host Manchester United on Saturday: the time for learning is over.
While Ranieri delivered a few nice lines about grit and determination, saying that Fulham need “soldiers who have to fight until the end” against United, it was when he turned his thoughts to tactical concerns that his frustrations became more apparent. His demand that his players get the ball forward quickly sounds reasonable enough, but the challenge is forcing a rapid shift in mentality in a group who spent three years learning a different style of football under Slavisa Jokanovic.Continue reading...
• ‘We believe that a man should not be judged for what has been’
Ravel Morrison says he is aiming to “rebuild myself” with a move to Swedish side Ostersund, having surprisingly revealed he is an Arsenal supporter.
The former Manchester United midfielder was once rated as the most naturally-gifted young player Sir Alex Ferguson worked with at Old Trafford but has found it difficult to make an impact in his senior career after spells at West Ham and Lazio. Morrison, who spent last season on loan at Mexican side Atlas and scored four goals in 25 appearances, joined up with the Swedish side’s training camp in Marbella with a view to joining the side that were defeated by Arsenal in the Europa League knockout stages last season.Continue reading...