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For its first Champions League match of the season, Tuesday, PSG will find an old rival. A year and a half after the humiliating elimination in the round of 16, the Parisians face Manchester United again. Thomas Tuchel’s men will try to make people forget this painful memory.
A nightmare. On March 6, 2019, at the Parc des Princes, PSG suffered one of its most humiliating defeats. In the round of 16 second leg of the Champions League, the Parisians once again let the qualification for the quarters slip by conceding an improbable defeat at home (1-3) against Manchester United, after clearly winning (0-2) the first leg .
A season later, the Ile-de-France club finds the Mancuniens for its first group match of the Champions League. The reception of Manchester United on Tuesday 20 October will be an opportunity to show that the injury is closed, for Thomas Tuchel and for the 11 players of the current squad who were on the scoresheet that day.
“Our goal, everyone knows it. We want to win every game. (Against Manchester) some will think of taking their revenge, others will forget … It’s another game, totally different from the last time” , however moderated Captain Marquinhos just after the draw that placed Parisiens and Red Devils together in Group H.
Manchester without Cavani
On the Manchester side, the excitement is also at its peak. Frenchman Paul Pogba is impatiently awaiting this confrontation. “I already hope that I will play, for sure it will be a game to watch, expected by everyone. Because given the history of the last game against PSG, and of course the transfer of Edinson, I think it will be a game to watch and very interesting, “said the world champion, referring to the recent signing of Edinson Cavani to Manchester United after his free departure from PSG.
After his fortnight, the latter had started training with his new teammates on Sunday, but he was finally judged too fair by his coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Uruguayan, who has not played in an official match for more than seven months, has therefore not taken the plane to Paris and will not be on the lawn of the Parc des Princes to play against his former teammates. At his best, he would have been useful to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who, despite the enormous attacking potential of his team with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes, is still looking to mark his territory, two weeks after the rouste received at home in the league against Tottenham (6-1).
Cast out old demons
In March 2019, against the Red Devils who had nothing diabolical, Thomas Tuchel’s men had multiplied the blunders, including a penalty in added time caused by defender Presnel Kimpembe, guilty of having countered a ball with the arm . “That’s life, but it hurt me,” said the central defender a year ago. “It’s a moment we will never forget in our lives and our careers. But we have to move forward.”
During this meeting, several errors had symbolized the mental bankruptcy of Thomas Tuchel’s team against that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, yet deprived of many executives. A failed back pass from Thilo Kehrer had allowed Romelu Lukaku to open the entry scoring for “ManU”, then a scramble from the venerable Gianluigi Buffon on a long shot from Marcus Rashford had given the Belgian striker a brace . It is the same Rashford who then transformed the 3-1 penalty in stoppage time, synonymous with the elimination of the Parisians by virtue of away goals.
A year and a half later, PSG may have averted bad luck. His journey in the unprecedented “Final 8” in Lisbon in August, until the final lost 1-0 against Bayern Munich, seems to show that the champion of France has broken his glass ceiling. In 2020, the “remoradas” were to the advantage of the Parisians, against Borussia Dortmund (1-2, 2-0) in the eighth then Atalanta Bergamo (2-1 with two goals in the last minutes) in the quarters , played in a single match on neutral ground, pandemic obliges.
A diminished Parisian workforce
But the capital team appears however diminished before this first shock of the Champions League. Due to injuries and the coronavirus, several executives are guaranteed to miss the resumption of European competition.
If Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that star striker Neymar will indeed be on the scoresheet, the same will not be true for Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes. According to Le Parisien, the PSG midfielder will be forfeited due to a thigh injury contracted with the Italian selection, while the Argentinian was hit in the hamstrings against Nîmes. These packages are added to those of Juan Bernat, victim of a rupture of the cruciate ligaments on September 16 against Metz, of Mauro Icardi, affected in the internal ligament of a knee and of Thilo Kehrer. But Angel Di Maria will be on the pitch for this match against his former team. Suspended in Ligue 1 after spitting, his sanction does not apply in the Champions League.
In any case, the shock against Manchester United, the most formidable opponent in its group with RB Leipzig, will say a lot about PSG’s ability to reach the Grail this season. This poster will also determine the tone for the rest of the calendar, before two trips in two weeks, to Istanbul against Basaksehir, then to Germany.