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Match Preview: PSV Eindhoven vs. Manchester United

Manchester United get their Champions League campaign underway against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Manchester United return to Champions League group stage action for the first time in two years, as Louis van Gaal travels back to the fatherland to face Dutch domestic champions PSV Eindhoven.

It's the first time the two clubs have met since the 2000, when United were beaten 3-1 away at the Philips Stadion, only to respond in the reverse Champions League group stage fixture with a victory by the same scoreline -- though only thanks to goals from Paul Scholes and Dwight Yorke inside the final 10 minutes.

Though United are certainly favourites for victory this time around, things could prove tricky again on Tuesday. PSV reclaimed the Eredivisie title for the first time in six years last season, and though they've since lost Memphis Depay, they've still got a very talented young team. Coach Philip Cocu has turned them into a potent attacking force, and they head into the fixture buoyed by a 6-0 thrashing of Cambuur on Saturday.

Team news

Manchester United's two certain absentees are Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney, with the former still recovering from thrombosis and the latter a hamstring strain. The good news is that has afforded space in the squad to a couple of United's most talented youngsters, with Andreas Pereira and James Wilson having both made the trip to the Netherlands. It's possible we'll see some rotation from van Gaal in this match, but quite how much he'll switch things up remains unclear.

PSV will apparently be without winger Florian Jozefzoon, though could have Dutch international full-back Jetro Willems back involved for the first time this season. Otherwise, Cocu is said to have a full-strength team at his disposal.


PSV Eindhoven haven't featured in the Champions League group stages for six years, which makes predicting how they'll set up a pretty difficult task. If it's anything like normal, Cocu's side will set up in a classically Dutch 4-3-3, with short, quick passing the name of the game.

Though their wingers have both been on the scoresheet this season, expect them to stay pretty wide and try to stretch United's defence across the width of the pitch -- the left-footed Lestienne plays wide left, while the right-footed Narsingh should play on his more natural side. They'll both flank centre-forward Luuk de Jong, who has netted five goals in as many league games this season. He's also won more headers than any of his teammates, which could make him a tricky customer for Daley Blind and Chris Smalling.

Davy Pröpper and Andrés Guardado should play either side of holding midfielder Jorrit Hendrix. They're both excellent passers, though the latter has spent much of his career playing out on the left flank -- he's a good dribbler and could be the trickiest customer for United's midfielders.

Alas, we're not expert enough to deliver a full analysis of their defence, other than to say they're young. Centre-backs Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Jeffrey Bruma and right-back Santiago Arias are all 23, while left-back Jetro Willems is 21. Inexperience in PSV's back line could well be the team's biggest weakness, but they should receive plenty of protection from the players ahead of them: Cocu's side prefer to stand off rather than press, and should be quite happy to let United have control of the ball in their own half.