Basel vs Manchester United preview, betting tips and prediction: Pogba return to reignite Red Devils' European hopes
Manchester United to win 2-0 @ 17/2 with Betfair
Manchester United to win and BTTS @ 10/3
Manchester United to win and Romelu Lukaku to score first @ 10/3
Manchester United are looking more and more like their dominant selves of yesteryear, but some old issues have crept in since Paul Pogba limped off with a hamstring problem seven weeks ago in another Champions League fixture at Old Trafford. The Frenchman’s combination of strength and technique has made a real difference to the Red Devils’ play. Weeks of turgid, professional football could be put on hold again, judging by the impact Pogba made in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Newcastle.
His link up play with close friend Romelu Lukaku is brilliant and has allowed thr Belgian to end a personal goal drought. United have won all four Champions League games so far, and they will fancy their chances of continuing that run at St Jakob Park. Admittedly, that is not a happy place for the Red Devils who lost there in 2011, only to then get knocked out of the group.
But by sitting six points clear of both Basel and CSKA Moscow, Jose Mourinho’s side have all but clinched qualification and top spot. We are not anticipating any problems for them here.
The free-scoring, exuberant United had been missing for weeks but returned at home to Newcastle on Saturday. Not only did Pogba grab an assist and a goal on his return, but he ran the show with his general play. The team looks fitter, stronger and braver when he is around. The difference is clear, not only in the Premier League but the Champions League too. With him around, poor attacking displays like against Liverpool, Tottenham and Benfica should be a thing of the past. We expect a comfortable away win.
As far as Basel’s Champions League form goes, they have been quite impressive in spells. Although their loss at Old Trafford on matchday 1 seemed comprehensive, the reality was that they did equip themselves fairly well during parts of the game. Their dominance over Benfica also has to be noted. There is a reason they are currently second and looking good for a place in the knockout rounds.
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Manchester United have just welcomed back a number of key players to their squad, all of whom should feature in this game. Pogba’s return from hamstring trouble has been noted already, but Zlatan Ibrahimovoc, top scorer from last season, will be fit after a hugely impressive recovery from a serious knee problem. Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini are also in contention, but Phil Jones will miss out after picking up an injury on international duty, much to Mourinho’s annoyance.
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Other than experienced goalkeeper Germano Vailati, Basel have a clean bill of health and will line up strongly in this one.