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Manchester United are ready to welcome back the bright lights of Champions League football after a season’s absence and will do so by hosting Swiss side FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday. The Red Devils will be wary of the fact that their opponents knocked them out of the Champions League group stage 6 years back. Of course, a lot of changes have happened since then, but complacency is never a good thing in football.
Jose Mourinho has already confirmed that both Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will start, as he looks to give Eric Bailly and Phil Jones some much-needed rest. The English club will be looking to start their run in the competition on a strong note and forget the disappointing 2-2 draw at Stoke City on Saturday.
A clean bill of health for Mourinho other than Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young, who are all still on the injury list.
The Spaniard was at his usual best against Stoke City and will be eager to start in a Champions League fixture once again.
The Ecuadorian had a rare off-game at the Britannia, as he failed to contribute significantly to the team’s cause. He will be looking to come back strongly against the Swiss team.
The Dutchman is likely to start at the left-back position after Matteo Darmian’s poor show against Stoke. The Italian was taken to the task by Diouf and Jese, and is likely to be benched. The former Ajax man could be a key asset to United’s chances, as his overlaps and game-reading abilities will come in handy when defending against a Basel team set up to play on the counter.
Both Smalling and Lindelof will make their bow for the United team and will look to impress Mourinho. The Englishman and the Swede were unconvincing during the pre-season but will be eager to put all that behind them and put in a good shift.
Neither Matic nor Pogba was particularly effective against the Potters and failed to really command the midfield. However, the Serbian and the Frenchman complement each other well enough to recognise their flaws and will be eager to get their A-Game back.
Martial is likely to start the Champions League fixture after he came on as a substitute against Stoke City. His impact on the games after coming off the bench has been immense this season, and Jose should start him in the place of Rashford.
Mourinho would be well-advised to start Mata on the right wing, as the wily Spaniard’s ability to drift in and pick clever passes went a long way in helping United’s attack score 10 goals without reply in the first 3 games of the season. He will be invaluable during counter attacks as well.
With Mata starting on the wing, Mkhitaryan will start in the number 10 role, which is something that suits him the most. Blessed with pace and exceptional ball control, the Armenian already has 5 assists in the league and will look to open his Champions League tally as well.
9 goals in 7 games for club and country is Lukaku’s goal tally this season, and he will be eager to add to the count. The Belgian links up exceptionally well with Pogba and Mkhitaryan, and will look to wreak havoc on Basel’s defence.