Manchester United v PSG: Underrated Ligue 1 outfit will not roll over
The hosts are favourites but won't have things all their own way when PSG visit Old Trafford for a mouthwatering looking tie on Tuesday night, says Ligue 1 expert James Eastham...
"Manchester United are on a tremendous run of 10 wins and a draw in all competitions but this is the first time they've faced opponents of this calibre since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed manager."
Best Bet: Man Utd vs PSG Draw @ [3.55]
Manchester United v PSG
Live on BT Sport
Injury nightmare for PSG
Manchester United are virtually at full strength. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no fresh injury or suspension worries to contend with.
PSG have far greater problems - Edinson Cavani and Neymar, two parts of their outstanding attacking trident, are out, while Adrien Rabiot has been banished from the squad and will miss the game as a result of his decision to not extend his contract. Belgium right-back Thomas Meunier will also miss the game, meaning the visitors are without four players that would have started had everybody been available.
United favourites, visitors the value
When the draw was made for this round last December PSG were clear favourites, and rightly so. So much has changed since, however, the balance has almost totally swung the other way, to the extent that there are certainly more questions about the visitors than the hosts on the eve of the match. Manchester United are [2.42] to win on the night, with PSG [3.25] and The Draw [3.55].
By their own standards, PSG have made a desperate start to the New Year: they went out of the League Cup at home to struggling Guingamp (1-2) and were taken to extra-time by third-division part-timers Villefranche in the French Cup last week before sending some of their heavy artillery off the bench to secure a 3-0 victory.
PSG's Ligue 1 form has been better - five games, five wins - but all is clearly not well in the camp and the absence of key players is a further blow.
Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far, however, and PSG's chances are now being underrated. The visitors have a lot more recent experience than Manchester United in the latter stages of this competition, and the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and Kylian Mbappe should start. It will take a strong defensive effort from the visitors to avoid defeat but they are capable of producing one despite occasional problems in this competition in past seasons.
Manchester United are on a tremendous run of 10 wins and a draw in all competitions but this is the first time they've faced opponents of this calibre since Solskjaer was appointed manager. If you're looking for a pick in this market, The Draw's the best selection.
Goals fest not on cards
It's little surprise that Over 2.5 Goals is [1.78] favourite in a game between two sides vaunted for their attacking football. Yet PSG's team news generally, and more specifically the absence of Cavani and Neymar, means the visitors will be forced to place greater emphasis on defending.
"Without Cavani, Tuchel has to change everything," said sports daily L'Equipe's front page on Monday morning. While that's not strictly true, there's no question PSG manager Thomas Tuchel will have to plan differently without the Uruguay centre-forward. Mbappe is likely to play as the central striker in a 4-2-3-1, with a three-man attacking line-up of Dani Alves, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria behind him. That's not bad, but it could have been a lot better.
As a result, PSG will have to rely on the defensive quality and experience of Buffon, Thiago Silva, France international centre-back Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos - expected to operate as a holding midfielder - a little more than they normally would.
Will it be a closed game? Probably not, but the chances of there being two or fewer goals are a little higher than usual. At [2.24], Unders would be the selection.
The Draw @ [3.55]
Under 2.5 Goals @ [2.24]