Peter Schmeichel: Manchester United Can Still Knock PSG out of Champions League

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2019

Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappe, left, defends the ball as Manchester United's Eric Bailly goes to challenge during the Champions League round of 16 soccer match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Tuesday, Feb. 12,2019.(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Peter Schmeichel has said Manchester United still have a chance to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain from the UEFA Champions League, with the French giants holding a two-goal advantage in the round of 16.

PSG beat United 2-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday. The Ligue 1 champions were without injury casualties Neymar and Edinson Cavani, but the Red Devils lacked the ability to shut out the visiting side.

Speaking to beIN Sports (h/t Liam Corless of the Manchester Evening News), the former United goalkeeper said he disagreed with former team-mate and now pundit Gary Neville, who said the Premier League team could now crash out of the competition after being "outclassed." 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Paul Pogba of Manchester United, Marquinhos of PSG during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Manchester United (Man U) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Old Trafford stadium on February 12, 2019
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Schmeichel said:

"I don't know why [Neville] said that. There's a three-week period now, anything can happen before the second leg and make no mistake, Manchester United will have learned a lot from today. An awful lot. In three weeks you can improve a lot. You can train a lot. You can come up with a proper plan."

United dominated the opening 20 minutes of the first leg as they pressed the French champions, but injuries to Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard swung the encounter away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team in the second half.

Goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe gave the Parc des Princes outfit a deserved victory, with United struggling to attack after the forced introductions of Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata from the bench.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manager of Manchester United applauds fans during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford on February 12, 2019 in Manc
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Midfield star Paul Pogba was also sent off for a second bookable offence in the closing stages, and he'll miss the trip to Paris thanks to a suspension.

Per Corless, Solskjaer was reflective after the loss, which was his first since taking interim charge of the club after Jose Mourinho's departure in December.

"There is a determination in the dressing room to put this right," said Solskjaer. "We will give it a go. If we get to half-time with a one-goal lead, that is what we have to aim for."

The failure of Sanchez to shine in the second half will be a major concern for United fans. The Chilean superstar must ignite his Old Trafford career in the next few games to extend his time in the north-west.

Sanchez's long period on the bench has damaged his match sharpness and fitness, and he was clearly off the pace against a slick PSG midfield.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Paul Pogba of Manchester United is shown a red card during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford on February 12, 2019 in Manchester, Engla
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Les Parisiens weathered the storm after an initial scare, and they will believe they have one foot in the next round after a satisfying scoreline from the first leg—and with Pogba missing.

The true test for Solskjaer will be if he loses Martial and Lingard for any period. The two forwards are vital to the way their team performs and attacks, and without them, United are a much weaker prospect.  

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