Alex Keble takes a look at the fourth round of Champions League group stage fixtures, predicting more woes for Manchester United...
"It is plausible, then, that Deniz Turuc, Demba Ba, and Edin Visca will again hit Man Utd quickly down the flanks on the counter-attack, after absorbing the hosts’ 70+% possession."
Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig
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Thomas Tuchel is having to contend with a series of injuries and suspensions, with Idrissa Gueye out along with Presnel Kimpembe, Ander Herrera, and Marco Verratti. That means he will probably go for a 4-4-2 formation, as he did in the 3-2 defeat to AS Monaco at the weekend, which points to more worrying defensive errors and a flat two-man midfield that Leipzig can out-run.
Emil Forsberg dominated in the return fixture, regularly managing to get on the ball through the middle of the park once Gueye had been sent off in the 69th minute. The energetic pressing of Julien Nagelsmann's team, with the overlapping wing-backs playing a vital part, should see the visitors create space relatively easily against a 4-4-2.
Angelino's movement was a threat in that fixture, too, with Angel di Maria unable to get back and track him as Tuchel's formation became a 4-2-4. If Forberg sees a lot of the ball, he should be able to find Angelino to cut PSG open. I'll back the hosts here.
Man Utd v Istanbul Basaksehir
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The most worrying thing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of this crucial Champions League match is that his team were just as bad in the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion as in the 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir before the international break. These games followed a repeating pattern that has defined Solskjaer's tenure at Manchester United.
Without complex tactics or structured attacking interplay to speak of, United simply improvise when in possession. When faced with a low defensive block they do not have any set plays to fall back on, meaning they cannot build attacks several steps ahead. Expected to pass, then move, then think about what to do next, United are easy to defend against by sitting deep and digging in.
It is plausible, then, that Deniz Turuc, Demba Ba, and Edin Visca will again hit Man Utd quickly down the flanks on the counter-attack, after absorbing the hosts' 70+% possession. Certainly it will be a low-scoring game, with Basaksehir likely to come close to another major shock. The Double Chance appeals at a big price.
Liverpool v Atalanta
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Jurgen Klopp's team played with brilliant purpose and energy in the 3-0 win over Leicester City, proving that the sophistication of Klopp's coaching means squad players can seamlessly fit into the first 11. The speed with which they cycle possession and look to penetrate the defence is difficult for anyone to contend with, but Atalanta are pretty much Liverpool's perfect opponents.
The 5-0 win for Liverpool in the reverse fixture showed why. Atalanta use an aggressive man-to-man marking system in open play, and with an expansive shape that means they are vulnerable when on the ball or off it. Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota easily pulled the back three out of position in Italy due to that man-to-man system, poking huge holes in the defence for Liverpool to capitalise.
Against Leicester, Curtis Jones and Naby Keita played very wide for long periods, collecting the ball on the flanks in order to find time to pick a smart forward pass into the front three. This approach should pull Atalanta into uncomfortable zig-zag positions, creating room for a sharp, well-drilled Liverpool team to score at will - take the Reds to win on the handicap.
Inter v Real Madrid
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When the teams met before the international break Inter Milan were surprisingly unable to take advantage of the tactical confusion affecting Real Madrid this season, as Zinedine Zidane's side ran out 3-2 winners. However, since then Real have only got worse - losing 4-1 to Valencia and drawing 1-1 with Villarreal - while Inter welcome back Romelu Lukaku to the starting line-up.
Antonio Conte's side are very good on the break, capable of absorbing pressure in their 3-5-2 before hitting the flanks early via Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez as they split wide. This is exactly the sort of attacking play that hurts Real, whose passive 4-3-3 sees the wingers remain high up the pitch and the full-backs becoming overrun.
Valencia attacked almost exclusively down the wings in the 4-1 win, a game in which full-backs Lucas Vasquez and Marcelo were all over the place. With Achraf Hakimi bursting forward to join Lukaku and Martinez, the hosts ought to have enough firepower to catch out Zidane's side.