The Round of 16 of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League tournament is officially set. With a couple of interesting games, PSG versus Manchester United should garner the most attention. There is a ton of star power and potential for both of these clubs.
The first meeting will be on the 12th of February. Let’s take a look ahead with an emphasis on key matchups and who will win.
The Journey to this Matchup
PSG overcame insurmountable odds. They were drawn in a group that included Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade, and Napoli. The odds were against them largely due to the fact that they hadn’t been challenged in the French Ligue 1.
After starting off with a 3-2 loss to Liverpool in the opening game, PSG bounced back with a win over Red Star, but their next two games, both against Napoli, resulted in draws. PSG was nearly relegated to the relegated to the Europa league as a result.
Their fortunes changed when they pulled off an amazing 2-1 win in their second meeting with Liverpool followed by a 4-1 win against Red Star, winning the group as a result.
Manchester United was drawn alongside Juventus, Valencia, and Young Boys. While M. United had their struggles, they did manage to finish second, thus avoiding a relegation to the Europa.
Man U’s first three games resulted in one win, one draw, and one loss and it wasn’t looking good. A come-from-behind against Juventus in the second meeting gave Man U the chance to keep their hopes alive. They added one more win to seal their advancement to the Round of 16. However, their last game resulted in a disappointing 2-1 loss to Valencia who had been relegated.
Matchups to Watch
PSG Attackers vs David de Gea
PSG leads both the Ligue 1(49) and the UEFA (17) in goals scored. They do a great job working as a unit on the attack as they have 30 assists in club play. However, the French club will have their hands full dealing with an elite keeper.
de Gea is fourth in the Premier League in saves(61). On the contrary, he’s fourth in goals conceded(29)and he’s tied for second-to-last in clean sheets with just two. de Gea’s perfectly capable of making saves and there’s no doubt he’ll be able to deny PSG’s big three. Unfortunately, PSG isn’t just a one-man club as they have a multitude of guys who can attack him.
Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar are world class attackers. PSG leads the tournament in goals scored with 17, but the big three have 10 of those. If de Gea can’t get any help, it will be a long night for Man U.
Thiago Silva vs Romelu Lukaku
For Man U, Lukaku hasn’t scored a goal yet in Champions League play. In fact, he has failed to score in club play as well with only six goals.
PSG’s Silva has played a big role in preserving 10 clean sheets in club play. Yet, they have only managed to generate one clean sheet in UEFA play. Silva has to play with the same physicality, intelligence, and top form we have grown accustomed to.
Lukaku has to match his energy and fight for positioning in set plays. He might lack speed, but he can win this battle with brute force both with his right foot and headers. This will be an even matchup for most of the contests.
The Winner will be…
Ultimately, the odds on favorite definetely has to be PSG largely due to their offensive attack. Mbappe, Cavani, and Neymar have done a brilliant job leading the charge. They can control the ball, penetrate through opposing defenses, and score.
Silva and Presnel Kimpembe play well on defense and do a good job of clearing the ball and denying their adversaries.
Man U recently sacked Jose Mourinho, which means changes are coming. Look for them to come out with a desperate approach and a fresh style of play. Also, Man U’s last five games have resulted in one win, two losses, and two draws.
In the Premier League, they’re 7-5-5 sitting in sixth place. Paul Pogba was a player that had many issues with Mourinho. Going against his French national team mate in Mbappe should bring out the best in him as well.
In the end, there is just too much firepower and chemistry on PSG’s side.