04 Dec, 17:35
Manchester United will try to wrap up qualification for the knockout stages of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League when they host CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
The Red Devils are all but assured a spot in the next round, as they lead the Russians and FC Basel by three points in the standings and have a superior goal difference. Unless they somehow lose in dramatic fashion, United will top the group.
While United haven't technically booked their ticket for the next round yet, manager Jose Mourinho will enter Tuesday's match with no fear, knowing CSKA's goal difference is significantly worse than that of the Red Devils.
United have a difference of plus-8, while the Russians sit at minus-1. Basel have a difference of plus-4, so if the Red Devils want to take the top spot to avoid a potentially more difficult draw, all they have to do is earn a point against CSKA. With the derby against Manchester City on the horizon, Mourinho is widely expected to rotate his squad, knowing things would have to go dramatically wrong on Tuesday for his team to miss out on the top spot in Group A.
Paul Pogba will almost certainly keep his place after his red card against Arsenal, as he will be suspended for coming Premier League fixtures. Midfield partner Nemanja Matic is one of the players likely to be rested, with the likes of Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Sergio Romero near locks to start.
Marouane Fellaini could start in order to grab some rhythm ahead of Sunday's match against City, although Mourinho could opt not to risk him and go with talented youngster Scott McTominay instead.
So what is happening in Group A?
United battered CSKA in Moscow in the first meeting between the teams, but the Russians have been in fine form of late and didn't lose a match in November. CSKA will be motivated, even if they are unlikely to advance to the next round. Basel face Benfica in the other match in Group A, and the Eagles have already been eliminated and have nothing to play for.
Mourinho and his troops will have to avoid looking too far ahead and focusing on City, but barring a major disaster, Tuesday's fixture shouldn't present any problems for United.
Prediction: United 2-0 CSKA