Tuesday 12 September 2017

Match preview: United v FC Basel

United's £31m Swedish summer signing Victor Lindelof will make his Old Trafford bow as attention turns to our eagerly-awaited Champions League return against the Swiss champions. 

The Reds will be without suspended duo Eric Bailly and Phil Jones against Raphael Wicky's Basel side, so Lindelof will partner Chris Smalling at the heart of the United defence.

Lindelof has yet to play in the Premier League having struggled on his competitive debut in our Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid last month but will line up for this Group A opener. 

United manager Jose Mourinho revealed that he had always planned to select the pair, regardless of other defensive options.

He said: "They are all the same level, so it is not a problem at all.
"Even if Bailly and Jones were available, I would probably have played Lindelof and Smalling, for Victor I think it is easier for him to adapt because he is used to playing in the Champions League."

David de Gea is set to start in goal, but Marouane Fellaini is doubtful with the calf injury that ruled him out of the trip to Stoke.

This is the Reds first Champions League season since the ill-fated 2015/16 campaign, when the team failed to get out of a relatively kind group under Louis van Gaal (who lost his job at the end of that season).

Mourinho added: "To be humble is to admit that the opponent has the same ambition that we do.
"This opponent can perfectly come here and give Manchester United a bad taste, as they have in the past, but we are strong, playing well and we have good confidence in ourselves.
"In spite of this being a difficult match, we will try to win.
"We have to try and qualify and we have to go to the last 16 and enjoy that special knock-out phase with the best teams in Europe."

In contrast to our own blistering domestic start, the 20-time Swiss champions have started slowly with three wins from their opening seven matches, with two defeats against BSC Young Boys and Lausanne. 
Having won their league for the last eight seasons in a row, Basel - synonymous with United's recent Champions League history - will be looking to catch the eye on the elite stage again.

They knocked United out of the competition at the group stage back in 2011 after a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford and Alexander Frei's winner in the return fixture in Switzerland. 

Form guide: United L W W W D FC Basel W W D D L
Match odds: United 1/5 Draw 7/1 FC Basel 18/1
Referee: Frenchman Ruddy Buquet takes charge of a United fixture for the first time.

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