Preview: Basel v Manchester United

Manchester United

Basel will be looking to prevent Manchester United from securing their way out of Group A with two games to spare when they meet in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening.

UEFA Champions League

Date: 22 November 2017

Match Day 5

Kick-off: 20:45 local

Venue: St. Jakob-Park

Referee: D. Orsato

Assistants: R. Di Fiore, L. Manganelli

Fourth official: A. Giallatini


Basel 5 1 2 2
Man United 5 2 2 1 

Previous encounter: 

Manchester United 3-0 Basel 12/09/17 (Champions League)

Manchester United goalscorers: M. Fellaini (pen 35'), R. Lukaku (53'), M. Rashford (84')

Players to watch: 

For the home side, former Premier League flop Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who scored one goal in 25 games for Norwich City as the club's then record signing, will be the main threat for United.

Since moving on from the Canaries, the Netherlands international has rekindled his career as a prolific target-man, with his form last season with Vitesse Arnhem earning him an off-season move to the Swiss giants for £3.15m.

Since arriving in Basel, the 28-year-old has scored eight goals and registered two assists in 11 games across league and European fixtures.

However, his goal scoring run was halted by a fractured metatarsal and after missing the last six weeks of action, the towering forward is expected to feature against the Red Devils.

For United, the returning Paul Pogba will be the man to look out for after a man of the match display against Newcastle over the weekend.

The France international midfielder proved his indispensable role for Jose Mourinho's side as the Premier League title challengers thrashed Newcastle 4-1, assisting Anthony Martial's goal and etching his name on the scoresheet in a dominating midfield display.

Pogba's unpredictable skills and powerful running give the United front-three attacking freedom to roam in areas where they can hurt the opposition, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all set to benefit from the talented Frenchmen's presence.

Team form and manager quotes: 

After their opening day 3-0 defeat to United at Old Trafford, RotBlau shocked Europe with a 5-0 thrashing of Benfica and a 2-0 win away from home to CSKA Moscow.

However, after the Russian's avenged their home defeat with a 2-1 win at St Jakobs Park, a win for Basel over United is needed to stake their claim for a knock-out berth in this season's Champions League.

They come into the game on the back of a 5-1 thrashing of domestic rivals FC Sion, after going a goal down in the third minute, Rafael Wicky's side went on to score five unanswered goals in the second-half.

Both sides are second in their domestic leagues at the moment.

Wicky believes his side can emulate the class of 2011, who beat the English giants 2-1 at the same venue to knock Sir Alex Ferguson's star-studded side out Europe's elite club competition.

"Yes I believe we can do it again," he told reporters. "Everything is possible in football. 

"Of course we're not favourites and we play an enormously strong side. Everything has to be perfect to win against them, just as it was in 2011. But yes it's possible."

Jose Mourinho knows United just need a single point for qualification to the next round but a dominating display to send a message out to the rest of Europe is what the Portuguese tactician will be after.

Following their impressive return to form over the Magpies this weekend, the former Real Madrid boss is likely to field the same line-up.

However, in the build-up to the fixture, he's criticised journalists for asking questioning his omissions in his starting XI.

"I decided to play Rashford and Martial together, the question for many weeks why don't they play together now it's why isn't Mkhitaryan playing. 

"The answer is very simple until the international board change the rules I can only play 11."

Team news: 

Phil Jones aggravated a thigh injury on England duty and will be out for the next few weeks. Defender Eric Bailly is also unavailable while midfielder Michael Carrick remains sidelined with a thigh problem.

Basel will be without suspended midfielder Taulant Xhaka, brother of Arsenal midfielder Granit.