LEIPZIG • Manchester United will travel to RB Leipzig for today’s final Champions League group match confident they can reach the knockout stage but knowing they have made life unnecessarily hard for themselves.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men appeared certain to ease out of Group H after two wins against Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig.
But a shock defeat away to Istanbul Basaksehir threw the group open and last week’s home reverse against PSG has left the French champions, United and Leipzig locked together on nine points.
United must now avoid defeat at the Red Bull Arena, the home of the German team, who are third in the Bundesliga.
That would take them through on the basis of a superior head-to-head record and the three-time European Cup winners can take heart from their away form this season with the exception of that ill-fated trip to Turkey.
They have won all five of their Premier League away games this term, taking their total of successive league wins on the road to a club-record nine.
But United, desperate to re-establish themselves among the European elite after spending last season in the Europa League, have also made a habit of getting themselves into difficulty.
They have trailed in every away game in the top flight this season and falling behind at Leipzig will spell danger for their chances of progression.
With PSG likely to beat Basaksehir at home and secure top place, Julian Nagelsmann’s men know only a win will suffice.
Manager Solskjaer has a decision to make in midfield, with Fred absent after a red card in the PSG loss, while Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are both injured.
Paul Pogba is expected to replace Fred and the French World Cup winner told the club website their next two games could be pivotal in determining how their season pans out.
“For sure, we have two big games coming up,” he said yesterday. “We have Champions League and we have (Manchester) City. We know those are two very important games, decisive games.
“We have to carry on this mentality of winning, always. We cannot afford to lose and be happy with a loss or a draw. We have to be bad losers – that’s what we have to be – and always want to win.”
Scott McTominay, who is also in contention to start in the middle of the park, agreed and claimed October’s thrashing of Leipzig would have no bearing on today’s game.
“The (5-0) result at home is completely out of the equation now,” he told MUTV. “We forget about that. It’s a game where we have to go and win. You can’t just go there and play for a point.
“You have to go and approach it like you want to win, and that’s definitely what we’re going to do.”
LEIPZIG V MAN UNITED
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