Everything that you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s match:
(1) Manchester United get a chance to put their Champions League campaign back on track after the shock defeat in Istanbul earlier this month. Entering that match, the Reds seemed in complete control of Group H after wins over both Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, but that 2-1 loss to the Turkish minnows significantly weakened their hold. Now, just three points separate top from bottom in the group.
(2) Sunday league players could have defended better than Manchester United’s high-priced backline in the first Basaksehir match. For the opener, a diabolical mix of miscommunication and ineptitude led to Demba Ba being left all alone near the midfield line after a United corner. Even the aging Ba can win a footrace when spotted half the pitch.
(3) Basaksehir manager Okan Buruk on Manchester United’s so-called defense:
We could not believe how much space Demba Ba was given. It wasn’t his goal that shocked us, but the fact he was completely unchallenged. I said after the previous game that we played well, but our inexperience showed. We showed glimpses of what we were capable of against PSG, but were unable to take our chances. We are growing in confidence and hope to spring a few more surprises in this group.
(4) Buruk was, no doubt, shocked again when Basaksehir doubled their lead later in the first half. Juan Mata lost possession in poor fashion inside his own half, setting the hosts loose on Dean Henderson’s goal. What looked to be a simple pass across the top of the box so befuddled Manchester United’s out-of-position defenders that Edin Visca had acres of space on the right side to power his shot past the United keeper.
(5) If the defense doesn’t show vast improvement — and, really, how could they not?!? — Manchester United have no chance in the Champions League. Heck, they’d have trouble in the Championship. For that reason, let’s take some small encouragement from Saturday’s clean sheet against West Brom. The Baggies had their chances — a looping header shortly before halftime, a penalty shout overturned by VAR, a late Callum Robinson screamer that hit the bar — but beggars can’t be choosers.
(6) Offensively, though, the 1-0 win over West Brom doesn’t instill much confidence. For the past eighteen months, it’s been penalties or bust for Manchester United — and that familiar pattern played out once again this weekend. United’s only goal came via a Bruno Fernandes penalty — a re-taken one at that — and the Reds rarely threatened from open play. On the bright side, Saturday’s win moves United above Manchester City in the Premier League table.
47' Bruno Fernades gives away a penalty, overturned by VAR.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 21, 2020
53’ Man United awarded a penalty, Bruno Fernandes misses.
56' Man United ordered to retake, Bruno Fernandes scores. pic.twitter.com/t0xKouqnVF
(7) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Paul Pogba, who missed the West Brom win with an injury:
Paul got a knock in the last [France] game and he started feeling it yesterday after the session. Well, he felt it before the session, but he couldn’t carry on. Hopefully he’ll be okay for Tuesday.
(8) Elsewhere in Group H, PSG host RB Leipzig with Les Parisiens in real danger of crashing out into the Europa League. If Manchester United and Leipzig both win on Tuesday, Thomas Tuchel’s side will be six points behind with just two games remaining. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe’s return from injury will give PSG a boost, though.
(9) On Saturday, Basaksehir lost 3-2 at Besiktas. The Turkish champs fell into a 3-0 hole — and went a man down — before a late Fredrik Gulbrandsen double restored some small measure of self-respect to the final scoreline. Basaksehir were already without one unnamed player who tested positive for Covid-19, but ended the match strongly even after Mehmet Topal was sent off in the 70th minute. A poor result, but they didn’t quit.
(10) The Besiktas loss brought Basaksehir’s winning run to an end. Okan Buruk’s side got off to just about the worst possible start this season, but recently reeled off four straight league wins — and the historic upset over Manchester United in the Champions League — to right the ship. They’re now up to 6th in the Turkish Super Lig with an outside chance to still advance from Group H.
(11) Let’s end on a light note: