UEFA Champions League: The Red Devils are BACK!
The Red Devils return to the top table of European football and they get things under way against a team they have struggled to beat in the past.
Manchester United are coming back to the Champions League after missing out last year when they take on Basel in their Group A opener on Tuesday. Jose Mourinho's side secured their place in Europe's premier club competition by winning the Europa League and they kick things off with a home tie against a Swiss side they have shared a group with twice before.
The Red Devils have only managed to beat Basel once in four attempts and even lost to them in 2011, a defeat which saw them tumble out of the competition at the group stage, so Mourinho's men will have to pay their opponents plenty of respect.
Man United will be without Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, who are suspended, meaning that Mourinho is forced into making changes in defense with Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof likely to come in. Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains on the sidelines as he works his way back from a knee injury and Marcos Rojo is also ruled out with a similar issue, but Luke Shaw and Ashley Young are nearing a return to full fitness so could potentially make the match-day squad.
Despite winning the League Cup and Europa League last season, Manchester United were still well below the level expected of them and their Premier League finish of sixth told the real story of Mourinho's first season at the helm. However, the Portuguese prepares for a return to the Champions League this season with his team sitting at the top of the league and he will be quietly ambitious about their chances of challenging for all the top prizes.
New signings such as Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic have helped to transform the Red Devils, giving them a dynamic they were sorely lacking last term, and they look like a much more clinical regiment, averaging three goals a game.
Basel have not started the Super League season in typical fashion. They lost their opening game, against Young Boys, failed to beat Lugano and Sion in back-to-back outings thereafter and, most recently, lost at home to bottom club Lausanne.
The Swiss giants have built a solid squad that is capable of doing well in Europe but lacks top-end talent. Players such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel should ring a bell with Premier League fans, and the team has a solid academy that regularly produces good prospects.
Being Manchester United’s return to the Champions League after being locked out last season, they will go all guns out to start the tournament in good fashion. The Red Devils also started the Premier League brightly and with the good momentum they have, it is quite possible that they will easily win the game.
Basel have not started their season perfectly and since they will be away, their chances of winning the game are not as good as Manchester United’s.