It’s been a shocker of a Premier League season so far for Manchester United, so the beginning of the 2020/21 Champions League group stage gives them some much needed respite.
The Red Devils travel to France to play last season’s beaten finalists, Paris Saint-Germain, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side arguably won’t have a better chance of coming out on top.
That’s because injuries and the coronavirus pandemic have wrought havoc throughout Thomas Tuchel’s side, and the hosts may only be able to field 11 fit players on the night.
“We have to take responsibility for Neymar and Kylian [Mbappe], who played almost 90 minutes yesterday, and the South Americans who have travelled a lot,” Tuchel was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“Maybe we will only have 11, 12 or 13 players available.
“We have a bit of bad luck. Draxler and Marquinhos are doubtful for Manchester too. Colin Dagba had a positive [coronavirus test] with the U21s. In the event of a negative test, he can return to the group.
“Kehrer is injured for a few weeks. Bernat and Icardi are injured, Icardi, a week ago. It’s the internal ligament in the knee, it’s not too serious but he will miss Nimes and Manchester.”
It may only be a crumb of comfort at this stage, but the Norwegian and his beleaguered players will take that.
As with the 2019/20 campaign, United just need a spark to bring them back to life and get them going again.
They haven’t become a poor team overnight, but a collective dip in confidence has brought Solskjaer to the brink of being sacked.
If the Red Devils are able to get their European campaign off to the best possible start, it could inject life into their domestic campaign too.