Basel vs ManUtd – early ticket for the Reds?
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Manchester United need just one point to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages as they prepare for their clash with FC Basel.
Jose Mourinho’s men have not lost in Europe in 2017-18, scoring 10 goals in four games and conceding just once.
United beat Basel 3-0 in the reverse fixture and will hope for a similarly resounding result this time around.
Jose Mourinho has included Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the Manchester United travelling squad ahead of their penultimate Champions League group game against Basel.
Mkhitaryan was dropped from the United squad for Saturday’s Premier League win over Newcastle after a string of poor performances but the 28-year-old could return to the matchday 18 in Switzerland and arrived at Manchester Airport with teammates on Tuesday afternoon.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make his Champions League debut for United and his first appearance in the competition since City eliminated Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals 18 months ago. Ibrahimovic, 36, returned from a seven-month injury lay-off as a substitute against Newcastle and is available to start.
Luke Shaw broke his leg at PSV Eindhoven in his last Champions League appearance and is in contention to figure after he made a league squad for the first time this campaign three days ago.
Mourinho must decide whether to risk another fit-again United player in Paul Pogba. The France international created one and scored another in the 4-1 victory over The Magpies but the United manager suggested Pogba could be rested ahead of the weekend visit of Brighton.
“I agree with him, he had to make the decision of coming out if he feels the first sign of fatigue,” Mourinho said following the Newcastle triumph. “Because we don’t want to go over the limit, so he played a little bit more than an hour and for that hour it looked like he wasn’t for such a long time without playing football.”
“He effects our football. When he was injured I decided to close my mouth, we cannot be crying we have to find solutions that we have but we all know myself, and the fellow players that some players influence the level of the team.
“So with him we had much more creation, we have a second way out from the first phase and so happy, let’s see the best decision for Wednesday is to play him or rest because he’s the player we need to protect.”
Injured trio Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick do not appeared to have travelled. Mourinho has not revealed the extent of Bailly’s injury but fumed at England’s handling of Jones after he limped off in their international friendly with Germany earlier this month.
“Look, I expect that every player who was injured last week is not playing,” Mourinho said on Friday. “If a player was injured Wednesday and the player is ready to play tomorrow there is something that is going wrong, so Phil Jones was injured Wednesday and obviously he is injured for tomorrow.
“If any player is ready for tomorrow there is something strange. But for me the stranger thing with Phil Jones is that I have been a manager since 2000 and in 17 years as a manager I don’t have one single player that had injections of anaesthetic to play a friendly. Never. Never.
“I have nothing more to say.”
Full-backs Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind could return to the squad after they were also demoted from the squad against Newcastle.
Antonio Valencia has played just one Champions League game so far this season and appears to have been rested again. Ashley Young and Juan Mata, who also trained at United’s Carrington training complex on Tuesday morning, were also not spotted by photographers at the airport.
Young has started United’s last eight games after cementing himself as first choice left-back.