“Ole’s at the wheel, man — he’s doing his thing. Man United are back!” The hysteria of that night in Paris still lives long in the memory for many Manchester United fans, none more so than Rio Ferdinand, who led the eulogies with his now famous hand rub.
The events of that Parisian evening saw Romelu Lukaku net a first-half brace, and culminated in Marcus Rashford scoring an historic penalty to complete a remarkable turnaround in the Champions League, sending travelling Mancunians into raptures and silencing the home terraces at the Parc des Princes.
Nearly two years on and that result still remains the crowning glory of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford tenure so far. As Rashford stepped up and struck home with the conviction of a man taking a penalty anywhere but the 94th minute of a Champions League decider, he further etched Man Utd into the history books.
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That 3-1 win in the second leg of the 2018/19 round-of-16 ensured Man Utd became the first team in the history of the European Cup to progress in the competition having trailed the first leg at home by two goals or more. To sweeten the pot it also equalled Sir Matt Busby’s record of scoring in consecutive away games (21).
Many lasting images remain from that night: Rashford, clad in that iconic salmon strip, reeling away in delight after breaching Gianluigi Buffon’s net; Presnel Kimpembe with his head in his hands; and Neymar, apoplectic on the touchline and visibly stunned by the late drama.
😀🙃Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Neymar will be ready to play against Manchester United on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/fg5aGcOubX
— FootballBlog (@FootballBlogy) October 18, 2020
The Brazilian superstar was forced to miss the match due to a foot injury, and his pitch-side antics subsequently went viral. But, he now has the chance to exorcise the ghosts of that drama-soaked collapse in Paris two seasons ago and get his side’s European campaign off to a flyer.
Group H represents an ominous prospect for Man Utd, with PSG accompanying RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir as three very awkward opponents for the English club. And in PSG, they face last season’s runners-up and a side boasting a fit Neymar, who is no doubt champing at the bit to leave his mark.
Sky Bet odds for PSG vs Man Utd:
- Neymar to score first @10/3
- Neymar to score 2+ @5/1
- Neymar to score and PSG to win @6/4
- Neymar to score from outside the penalty area @9/1
- Neymar to score both halves @10/1
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Indeed Thomas Tuchel has an impressive armoury at his disposal. He is spoiled by an embarrassment of world class attacking riches, with Kylian Mbappe just one goal shy of breaking Lionel Messi’s record for youngest ever Champions League player to score 20 goals, while Angel Di Maria was last season’s most productive playmaker (six assists).
But, arguably the best of the bunch is Neymar, who is fresh from surpassing Ronaldo in Brazil’s all-time top goalscorer list, netting a hat-trick against Peru during the international break to bring up 64 strikes in Selecao colours.
Kept on ice for PSG’s recent 4-0 win over Nimes, Tuchel has preserved his frontline fulcrum and will unleash him against Man Utd. And the visitors should be fearful. Last season only Messi (45) registered more carries with a take-on in the Champions League than Neymar (36), with the Brazilian progressing further with the ball in total than any other player (1,279 metres).
Certainly, Neymar has the tricks of a highlight reel player but he backs up his repertoire of jinks and pirouettes with a cut-throat streak in front of goal. Defend like they did against Tottenham, and it could be a long night for Solskjaer and his side, but one thing is certain: they must find a way to suppress the attacking excellence of Neymar if they are to have any chance of getting a result.