Manchester United vs FC Basel Preview: Red Devils look for winning start on Champions League return

United qualified for the group stages of the world's most elite club competition by winning the Europa League in May.

Manchester United vs FC Basel Preview: Red Devils look for winning start on Champions League return
Lukaku and Pogba in training (photo: Getty Images / Matthew Peters)

Three-time winners Manchester United return to Europe's top table in the Champions League on Tuesday, to take on FC Basel at Old Trafford.

United, who qualified by winning the Europa League, enter the competition for the third time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, who left in 2013.

The Red Devils' last campaign in the competition ended on a sour note, being eliminated in the group stages in third place, entering the Europa League, only to be unceremoniously dumped out of that tournament by Liverpool.

After being handed a relatively straight-forward draw, Jose Mourinho's side will be confident of going far better this year, and getting into the knockout rounds.

Form

Manchester United have started the season in excellent form, yet to be beaten domestically, with three wins and a draw.

They sit top of the table, clear of Manchester City on goal difference, and have only been defeated by European champions Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup before the full season started.

New signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic have started well, with the Belgian the top scorer at the club so far this season.

Superstar midfielders Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been in scintillating form as well, with the Armenian leading the assist tallies across Europe's top leagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposition

Basel may be making their eighth appearance in the Champions League, but they've never progressed beyond the last 16, and are winless in their last ten matches in the competition.

However, the Swiss outfit did knock United out of the group stages in 2011, in a huge shock that reverberated around Europe, and saw Nemanja Vidic suffer a knee injury that meant he never really returned to his prime.

They sit third in the Swiss Super League, but lost their most recent fixture against bottom of the table Lausanne.

Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel has started the season in tremendous form, bagging seven goals in seven games.

Team news

Suspensions to first-team centre-backs Phil Jones and Eric Bailly mean Chris Smalling and new signing Victor Lindelof will deputise in their absence.

He may have sat out the majority of last year's successful Europa League campaign, but David de Gea will start at Old Trafford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midfield duo Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic return to the Champions league after over a year out of it, and look nailed on to start, with Marouane Fellaini potentially joining them in the middle of the park after missing the trip to Stoke on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have started the season impressively, and look set to continue in attack alongside Lukaku, constraining the unlucky Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to the bench despite positive starts to the season for the pair.

The big debate comes at left-back, where Matteo Darmian disappointed in the draw on the weekend, but Daley Blind had impressed in during the first three games of the season.