Manchester United will need something just short of a miracle to advance through to the Champions League quarterfinals, as they head to Paris down 2-0 against PSG in their Round of 16 tie.
United has a mountain to climb on the scoreboard, and its task is even more difficult thanks to a rash of injuries and the suspension of midfielder Paul Pogba due to a red card he received in the first leg at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer: United Won’t Concede Defeat
But despite those challenges, interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still thinks the Red Devils have a chance to pull off a memorable upset on Wednesday.
“It’s difficult, but we’ve got to get the first goal and then anything can happen,” Solskjaer told reporters at a pre-match press conference. “We are 2-0 down, but we’ll never approach any game as a lost cause. We put that pressure on ourselves. Everyone expects us to go out, and go out easily, but that doesn’t happen with Man United.”
The challenge facing United is daunting on paper, and even tougher considering the quality of their opponents. Paris Saint-Germain is among the favorites to win the Champions League this season, with former French international Nicolas Anelka saying that he believes PSG will walk away with the trophy.
“I said practically at the beginning, when they were in trouble in the group, that they were going to win the Champions League,” Anelka told AFP while promoting soccer in Pakistan. “It’s in these moments that we find the soul of a team.”
With a two-goal cushion at home, PSG is a massive favorite to move on to the quarterfinals. William Hill is offering just 1/50 odds on PSG advancing, while bettors can get 10/1 on United to go through with a big win in Paris.
Roma Defends Slim Lead at Porto
There is likely to be more drama in Wednesday’s other Champions League match, as Italian side Roma takes a 2-1 lead into Portugal for the second leg of their tie against Porto. Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco is on the hot seat, but has said that the story should be about his team, not on whether he can save his job.
“I want the attention to be on Roma and the common interest of the ‘Romanista’ is that tomorrow the team qualifies, regardless of who the coach is,” Di Francesco told reporters on Tuesday. “The thinking is not about myself, but making sure that Roma get through this round.”
By scoring an away goal in the first leg, Porto now knows that it can advance with a 1-0 victory at home. That puts them in a solid position, but manager Sergio Conceicao says that his team can’t be anxious heading into the match.
“We must try to win but without haste,” Conceicao said at a press conference. “We’ll have to be effective in attack and defense. We’ll need the ability to attack, defend, and have balance.”
Bookmakers believe that both teams have every chance of advancing, though Roma has been given the slightest of advantages thanks to their 2-1 lead. William Hill has the Italian side at 4/6 to go through, while Porto can be backed at 11/10.