After beating the two group heavyweights in PSG and RB Leipzig, this is the exact type of game that you would expect Manchester United to slip up in. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been woefully inconsistent this season and seem to be in a perpetual motion of one step forward and two steps back.
However, most of their problems do seem to be at Old Trafford given that they boast a flawless away record over their last nine games on the road stretching back to June. United are undefeated on their travels since losing 2-0 to Liverpool in January and will fancy their chances of continuing that record against Istanbul Basaksehir; undoubtedly the worst team in Group H.
The Turkish club have already been comfortably beaten by both PSG and Leipzig, who United both outplayed, and there is a huge gulf in class between the two sides, even if United did put in yet another insipid home performance against Arsenal on Sunday.
United are certain to qualify from one of the toughest groups in this season’s competition if they can just beat Istanbul home and away in the next two games and it would be fully in their character to come away from the two fixtures with two points, but they really should win.
Martial has endured a difficult start to the 2020/21 season to say the least. The French striker was anonymous in United’s opening two league games of the season before getting himself sent off 30 minutes into their third and then missing the following three games.
He might have won a first-half penalty in Paris in the opening round of the Champions League, but he also put through his own net with a comically bad defensive header. To say that his confidence must have been at a low ebb is a massive understatement.
However, Martial looked far better in the win over Leipzig and his goal from the penalty spot, courtesy of Marcus Rashford’s never-ending generosity, will have done his confidence the world of good.
He is an almost guaranteed starter on Wednesday given that he didn’t feature against Arsenal due to his suspension and he will be keen to add to his scoring tally as quickly as possible.
Look, it’s common knowledge that United haven’t been great at the back, but they will surely expect to keep a clean sheet against a team that hasn’t yet scored in the Champions League. In any case, there have been green shoots of improvement in United’s backline in the five games since the 6-1 humiliation against Spurs.
United have conceded just three times in those five games, conceding two freak own goals and one penalty given away by a braindead challenge when Hector Bellerin was running away from goal. Otherwise, United have been fairly miserly at the back since the international break.
Despite outplaying United, Arsenal had very few clear-cut opportunities at Old Trafford, while Chelsea had even less the week before.
PSG, with about £400 million worth of talent in their front three alone, toiled against United’s rigid back five in Paris, while Leipzig struggled to create any chances of note last week. Istanbul, who have failed to score in their two games, will find it hard to break United down.
*All prices correct at time of publishing but may change. Odds are bang up to date on our snazzy widgets, though
Istanbul Basaksehir v Man Utd tips
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