Manchester United sit top of Group A and know that a single point will see them other the line in terms of securing first place and in theory an easier draw in the Round of 16. There are a few banana skins still waiting in there but at least the Old Trafford outfit would get the 2nd leg of that tie at home which seems to be the preference for all the top coaches.
Tonight Jose Mourinho takes his United side to Switzerland as they face FC Basel at St. Jakob Park. The Red Devils bounced back from domestic defeat before the international break to eventually make light work of Newcastle at the weekend.
They may have suffered an early shock when Dwight Gayle put Rafa Benitez’s men ahead early in the first half but a United side that would see Paul Pogba return from injury and score and not to mention the return of the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic also would go through the gears and stroll to a 4-1 win in front of their own fans.
That was a win that saw them go 38 games unbeaten at Old Trafford, that being a new club record and although Romelu Lukaku did not break any records at the weekend he would have no doubt been delighted that he broke his own goal drought.
The Belgian international scored his first goal in eight games (all competitions) at the weekend and with that particularly monkey off his back he will now look to build on the performance against Newcastle with another goal this evening.
The big question is though just how Lukaku and Ibrahimovic can co-exist in the same side, the belief is that the former is the number one forward at the club but that is not to say he is the undisputed one either. Ibrahimovic may well be prepared for a slighter lesser role compared to last season but just how much time will he be willing to spend on the bench as the weeks and months progress?
There is no question that the returns of Pogba and Ibrahimovic last weekend would have caused waves and after the former scored at the weekend he will be more than likely to once start again tonight while the latter may well have to do a place on the bench.
This does however show that United do have enhanced options in the squad now and although the Premier League looks out of reach there is no reason why they cannot add a Champions League title to the Europa League trophy that was earned last season.
Tonight Raphael Wicky’s Basel side stand in the way of securing top spot. The Swiss side are without Taulant Xhaka (brother of Arsenal’s Granit) who misses out through suspension and come into this game lying second in the Swiss Super League some seven points behind leaders Grasshoppers Zurich.
Basel may well have picked up a victory against Manchester United back in December 2011 but I cannot see that being the case, I think United will make it five wins from five in Group A and go into the next round as one of the group winners. An away win for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
Time for some Champions League scientific polls
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) November 22, 2017