Champions League Matchday 5 preview: Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain (21:00h. CET; 20:00h. GMT) - Team news, lineups

Manchester United are just one point away from sealing their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare ahead of Wednesday's meeting with last year's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils sit top of Group H and know that simply avoiding defeat in one of their final two games will see them through, although on Wednesday they face a PSG side out for revenge and knowing that only a win will really do.

Match preview

Many Manchester United fans would have feared the worst when Group H was drawn, with last season's runners-up PSG and semi-finalists RB Leipzig considered bigger favourites than the three-time winners of the competition to progress.

Now, though, the Red Devils need only one point from their remaining matches against those two teams to seal their place in the knockout stages, while victory on Wednesday coupled with Leipzig dropping points against Istanbul Basaksehir - or even a draw coupled with Leipzig losing in Turkey - would secure top spot for United with a game to spare.

In many ways, United's Champions League campaign has encapsulated the inconsistency which has led to a series of highs and lows this season; few would have been expecting victory in Paris on matchday one or a 5-0 thrashing of Leipzig on matchday two, but similarly they were not expected to then lose against an Istanbul Basaksehir side that had never won a Champions League game - or even scored a Champions League goal - before.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side did get their revenge for that with a 4-1 win at Old Trafford on matchday four, reassuming control of Group H as PSG edged past Leipzig.

While the Champions League has shown hallmarks of United's inconsistency across all competitions, there are still sharp contrasts between their European exploits and their Premier League fortunes.

Those are most obvious when it comes to home form, with United having won just one of their last seven home Premier League games but having won each of their last seven European outings on home turf by an aggregate score of 24-2.

The Red Devils have not enjoyed a longer run than that since September 2006 to April 2008, although it should be noted that many games in this latest run did come in the Europa League last season.

In the Champions League alone Man United had lost four and only won one of their previous six games at Old Trafford before this season, although they have been much better so far in 2020-21.

Indeed, they have scored nine goals in their two Champions League home games this term, compared to only three in five home Premier League outings, and only three clubs in the entire group stages have scored more overall heading into matchday five.

Solskjaer's side should also be full of confidence following their rousing second-half comeback against Southampton on Sunday as Edinson Cavani - a legend and record-breaker for PSG - inspired the turnaround after coming off the bench to seal a fourth successive win for the Red Devils.

The nature of United's comeback may be of particular concern to PSG, who were on the wrong end of a similar turnaround not long ago as they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Monaco in Ligue 1.

Thomas Tuchel's side squandered another lead on Saturday to ultimately draw 2-2 with Bordeaux, leaving the perennial champions now only two points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

Saturday's result continued an inconsistent spell for PSG, who have now won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five games in all competitions and failed to win back-to-back games at all in November - by no means enough to constitute a crisis but certainly disappointing for a team usually so dominant.

It would be regarded as a crisis should PSG fail to progress from Group H, and likely one that would cost Tuchel his job, but that is a very real possibility heading into the penultimate matchday.

Leipzig will be expected to beat Istanbul in an earlier kickoff on Wednesday, which could leave PSG third and three points off second place heading into the final matchday.

Qualification from that position is still possible, of course, but in that scenario it would require an already-qualified Man United to win away to Leipzig and for PSG to uphold their end of the bargain by beating PSG, and even then it would come down to their marginally-better head-to-head record against Leipzig.

The prospect of failing to even make it through the group stages one season after finally making it to the final for the first time will not bear thinking about for the club's owners, who still regard this trophy as the holy grail.

A win for PSG at Old Trafford makes their task a great deal easier, but they have only won one of their last four away Champions League games and have lost their last two away outings across all competitions.

It is a different story in the group stages alone, with their loss at Leipzig on matchday three their only such away defeat in their last seven, while they have at least scored in 30 consecutive away group games.

Indeed, in the Champions League as a whole PSG have only failed to score in one game since the start of the 2016-17 campaign - last season's final against Bayern Munich.

Manchester United Champions League form: WWLW
Manchester United form (all competitions): LLWWWW

Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form: LWLW
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions): WLWLWD

Team News

No PSG fan would have been surprised to see Cavani's heroics on Sunday, having watched the Uruguayan plunder a club-record 200 goals in 301 games for the French giants during his seven-year stay, helping them to 15 trophies along the way.

Another goal on Wednesday would be his 50th in UEFA club competition, but he has been engulfed in a racism storm since Sunday's match and Solskjaer must therefore make a decision whether he is ready to start against his former club.

Given that he is facing a possible domestic ban after using a racially-insensitive word in an Instagram post, Solskjaer may choose to use him in Europe, particularly with a question mark still hanging over the head of Anthony Martial, who missed the Southampton game through illness.

Martial is expected to be available but may be held back anyway, while David de Gea is also hopeful of recovering from the knock which forced him off at half time against Southampton.

With Dean Henderson desperate for more minutes, Solskjaer could go for his back-up keeper if De Gea is anything less than 100%, while he is also likely to practice caution over fellow injury doubts Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay and Eric Bailly.

Luke Shaw remains out with a hamstring injury, but Alex Telles is expected to overcome a minor issue from the weekend.

Paul Pogba should be available to make his 50th Champions League appearance following an ankle injury, while Donny van de Beek is expected to shake off a minor ankle problem after finally making his first Premier League start at the weekend. His next appearance will also be his 50th in UEFA club competition.

Marcus Rashford has scored five goals in his four Champions League outings this season - as many as he managed in his first 18 such appearances - so he is expected to start once again too.

Axel Tuanzebe is suspended for this one, having starred in the reverse fixture on matchday one.

PSG could be without Marquinhos after he sat out Saturday's match with an adductor injury, while Julian Draxler and Thilo Kehrer are also expected to miss the match.

Juan Bernat is a long-term absentee, but there was better news on the injury front at the weekend with Mauro Icardi returning off the bench and Idrissa Gueye also deemed fit enough for a place among the subs.

Eighteen-year-old Timothee Pembele made his debut at centre-back on Saturday but scored an own goal after only 10 minutes and he could lose his place in the side for this one.

Former Manchester United duo Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera will both be hopeful of a return to a starting lineup which is also set to feature star pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the latter of whom needs only one more goal to reach 100 for the club in all competitions.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Fred, Matic, Van de Beek; Fernandes; Rashford, Cavani

Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Navas; Florenzi, Diallo, Kimpembe, Bakker; Verratti, Marquinhos, Herrera; Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar

Head To Head

Man United famously won the reverse fixture in October thanks to Rashford's late goal, having also beaten PSG in Paris for the standout victory of Solskjaer's tenure so far back in March 2019.

PSG have won their only previous visit to Old Trafford, though, meaning that the away side has won all three editions of this fixture in the past.

That home defeat to PSG is Man United's only one in their last 11 meetings with Ligue 1 clubs, and their only one in 15 previous home games against French opposition.

On a personal level, Solskjaer could become only the second manager - after Luis Enrique with Barcelona - to win three successive Champions League games against PSG.

Source: Sports Mole / Barney Corkhill

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