Manchester United fans could not have expected a better start to their UEFA Champions League journey. The Red Devils grabbed all the points and the plaudits yesterday after defeating the current French champions and the Champions League runners-up. An important win at Parc Des Princes makes it the second consecutive time that Manchester United have triumphed over PSG at their own backyard.
The match started off with both the sides playing fairly well. PSG had more ball possession but United were creating chances too. Bruno Fernandes scored the first goal of the game in the 23rd minute. The United skipper’s penalty was saved by Keylor Navas at first, but it was retaken and converted by the Portuguese. United managed to create a lot of chances, whilst PSG mostly had to rely on their front 3 since their midfield was not offering any creativity. Alex Telles had a great debut. The Brazilian left-back’s crossing proved to be very dangerous. Scott McTominay almost scored twice from the corners taken by him.
Thomas Tuchel made a second-half substitution, introducing Moise Kean by taking Idrissa Gueye off. Neymar was pushed behind the striker to offer creativity from the midfield. This tactic did pay off to a certain extent. PSG commenced the second half on a positive note. It worked out for them in the 55th minute as Anthony Martial headed the ball into his own net from the corner taken by Neymar. Paul Pogba was subbed on by Solskjaer in the 67th minute. The Frenchman made a great impact, assisting Marcus Rashford’s goal in the 87th minute. United took full control of the game since he was brought onto the pitch, earning the well-deserved 3 points.
Harry Maguire did not feature for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because of an injury. As a result, the Norwegian made a change in formation, playing a 3-5-2. Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw were used in a back 3. Bruno Fernandes captained the side in the absence of Maguire, starting alongside Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield. Alex Telles made his debut, playing as a left-wing-back.
Thomas Tuchel had to deal with plenty of injuries. He started the 4-3-3 formation with Ander Herrera, Danilo Pereira and Idrissa Gueye occupying the midfield. Neymar and Angel Di Maria returned to the starting lineup after being rested on the weekend.
United’s defensive masterclass
As Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly were unable to play against PSG due to injuries, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to rely on Axel Tuanzebe to do the job for his side. The young English centre-back played for the first time since December 2019, but he did a very remarkable job by managing to nullify the likes of Neymar and Mbappe.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka also deserves a lot of credit for keeping Mbappe quiet on the left flank. The full-back was kept extremely busy the whole game but he kept his composure against one of the best players in the world. Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Alex Telles also played their part in preventing PSG from scoring.
David De Gea also deserves a pat on his back for his performance yesterday. The goalkeeper proved that he has still got it, denying Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria numerous times. He was awarded the Man of the Match for the saves he made, and rightfully so.
PSG’s lack of creativity and energy
PSG played the yesterday’s game without Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, Leandro Paredes and Juan Bernat, who are established first team players for the club. It is always unfortunate for the manager to be devoid of match-winning options, and same was the case with Thomas Tuchel.
With PSG starting a slightly weaker team, it was obvious that a win was within Manchester United’s grasp. The lack of creativity in midfield was the major concern for PSG. Ander Herrera, Danilo and Idrissa Gueye are good footballers, but none of them can control the game very well. Football is a team sport, after all. So you cannot expect your world-class attack to pull the strings if it is not getting good service from the midfield.
PSG also did not press United well enough, giving the players a lot of space to move the ball forward quickly. Solskjaer must have noticed this which led him to bring Pogba on the pitch and make his side more attacking. It was a bold move, but one can’t say that it wasn’t worth it.
An impressive debut by Alex Telles
Alex Telles was signed by Manchester United from Porto for £13 million. The 27-year-old Brazilian left-back made his debut yesterday.
Since his Porto days, Telles has been known for his attacking prowess. He is a well-known crossing and a set-piece expert. The Brazilian showed the same in his yesterday’s performance. United were looking dangerous on the left side because of his presence. He whipped a grand total of 8 crosses, the most by anyone in the game.
His corners also proved to be absolutely lethal. Scott McTominay almost ended up scoring a brace in the process. It was a very impressive debut by him, and the manager was jubilant with it too.
“Alex played very well on his debut, we know his delivery is fantastic.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Alex Telles
Manchester United are now undefeated in their last 10 away games. The next few fixtures in the Premier League and the Champions League are going to be tricky. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did well in his first test of his difficult Champions League group. But there are a lot of challenging fixtures in the next few weeks waiting for him. A lot of positives can be taken from the yesterday’s match, and it was good to see Solskjaer switch up his tactics and manage the game accurately.
As for PSG, Thomas Tuchel has a mountain to climb. Injuries are the club’s biggest concern at the moment but it’s the manager’s job to get the best out of his current team. A fully fit PSG squad is a force to reckon with, and we can expect the team to bounce back as soon as their first team players recover from their injuries.