Manchester United won at the Parc des Princes for the second on Tuesday as they defeated Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in their opening Champions League group game. The Red Devils defended deep and hit the French champions on the counter-attack, and should have scored more than the two goals that they managed.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe provided a few scares to the Manchester United defence, but they were largely kept quiet. The Premier League side used their quick attacking players and often exposed the gaps in the PSG defence on the break.
After yet another impressive win in Paris, let’s take a look at 3 takeaways from Manchester United’s win against PSG.
PSG 1-2 Manchester United: 3 Takeaways
#3 Axel Tuanzebe could be the right man to play alongside Harry Maguire
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave some worrying news when he revealed that two of his first-team defenders, Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly, would not be available for the game. This left many scratching their heads as to who would play at the back as Victor Lindelof was the only other centre-back that has played for United this season.
Solskjaer sprung a surprise by playing a three-man defence comprising of Lindelof, Luke Shaw, and the returning Axel Tuanzebe, whose last game was 10 months ago. The young English defender, who is highly-rated and is seen as a future first-choice centre-back at the club, impressed with his strength, speed and tackling ability as he kept Neymar and Kylian Mbappe quiet. He and full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka marshalled United’s right side of the defence well.
The 22-year-old could be the perfect partner to play alongside captain Harry Maguire as he possesses the qualities that Maguire lacks, especially pace and one-on-one defensive skills.
#2 Scott McTominay is the perfect big-game player
Another player who has come through the ranks that excelled on Tuesday night is Scott McTominay. The Scottish international showed great energy, physicality and tackling in the middle of the park, and did not give the likes of Neymar space to run at the United defence.
McTominay seems like a good option in big games and against opposition that have quick players with strong dribbling abilities as he has the discipline and stamina to track attackers and stop them in their tracks.
The Scotsman is a better option than the experienced Nemanja Matic, who doesn’t have the speed and mobility to keep up with quick players.
#3 The three-man defence could be the solution to Manchester United’s defensive frailties
Most Manchester United fans were worried about the prospect of their defence facing the PSG trio of Angel di Maria, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. All three have speed and like to drive at opposition defenders – two things that has been the Achilles heel of Manchester United’s defence.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to play a three-man defence seems to have been a wise one. The Red Devils played that system for the majority of the game and it worked in their favour as their central defenders were not exposed to one-on-one situations.
United could use this system in big games, as they have done in the past, and with Alex Telles in their squad, they have a genuine wing-back who can cause trouble with his passing and crossing.