Man-U aim to continue winning run

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Nov 2017 10:28:26


 

UNDATED

MANCHESTER United can not merely seal progress in Basel at the capital of Switzerland but also do it in style as group winners on Wednesday night, where a win would extend their already perfect record in the Champions League so far – to five wins in five.


This will be the Red Devils’ first appearance in the tournament’s knock-out rounds in three years as the Portuguese manager is half-way through making sure United put in the right level of effort and commitment to get them to a stage where qualifying for the last 16 in the Champions League may become second nature again.


The visitors will make the trip to St Jakob’s Park in high spirits after dusting off some cobwebs in the weekend – going back to a familiar pattern of scoring four goals in a Premier League in the weekend, including and primarily down to the return of star midfielder Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo from medium and long-term layoffs – key first team members who will all play a vital role in the forthcoming months of December and beyond.
For Basel, there is all to play for in the competition.


After an impressive thrashing of Benfica on match-day two, the Swiss side have struggled to build on – even losing their most recent group A encounter against CSKA Moscow. Basel are suffering a period of poor results however, winning only once in the last four games in all competitions.
The home side have six points, level with CSKA, and will be through if they win and the Russian team lose due to their better head-to-head record and it will be interesting to see if the Swiss side could pull off another major against the might of Manchester United.


Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba all returned to first-team action at the weekend but Jose Mourinho will carefully manage their involvement at the start of this busy period. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are both doubts for the away side after missing the 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday through injury. With United very close to achieving qualification to the knockouts, Jose Mourinho is expected to rotate his squad to maximise utilisation.


JUVE NEED WIN AT HOME AGAINST BARCA


Juventus need a win at home over Barcelona to make the next stage of Champions League. Juventus are currently second in Group D, three points behind leaders Barcelona.
A win will guarantee them passage to the next round of the competition, whilst qualification would also be made possible with a draw provided Sporting CP don’t pick up maximum points at home to Olympiacos.


Last time out, Juve were held to a 1-1 draw away to Sporting, with Bruno Cesar giving the hosts a first half lead, before Gonzalo Higuain equalised for the Old Lady with a great finish to end the match all square.
Barcelona on the other hand were held to a surprising 0-0 draw away to Olympiacos, which means they now hold 10 points at the summit of Group D.


Away from the Champions League, Barcelona have been going great in La Liga so far and currently lead the division by four points, having won 11 matches, drawn once, and lost none.
Last time out for Barca, they faced Leganes away from home and won by three goals to nil, thanks to a brace from Luis Suarez and an effort from Paulinho.
La Blaugrana have scored 34 goals in La Liga thus far, conceding just four.


The first time the two sides met in Turin was the second-leg of a Fairs Cup match in 1970. La Vecchia Signora had already won the first-leg 2-1 in Spain, and once more won by the same scoreline at home. A goal by Roberto Bettega put Juve in front after five minutes, Fabio Capello doubled the advantage before half-time.


Luis Pujol pulled a goal back for Barca towards the end of the match, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Juve ran out 4-2 winners on aggregate.
The two clubs crossed swords for the first time in the current incarnation of the Champions League in 2003, in the first-leg of their quarter-final.