Noel Gallagher couldn’t help but make some reference to Manchester United’s suspect squad. “They’ve gotta rebuild the squad, can’t they?” he spat into the microphone during Manchester City’s Champions League match in Switzerland last season. “It’s bollocks!” Who’s really to blame?
Thrown into the melting pot of Manchester United’s problems is David de Gea’s standing as arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, a title he has asserted by making the Spanish league podium in four of the past five seasons – and a title that hasn’t eluded Tottenham with current No1 Hugo Lloris, who is four years De Gea’s junior. If Manchester United were to be successful this season, it will be because Lloris is never there. To put his underwhelming form in perspective, the Spurs keeper has won almost 60% of his penalty-kick saves since 2006. But De Gea has fared much better: he saved 50%.
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With a marquee game against Young Boys to play in next Tuesday, it looks like there’s an opportunity for the future that De Gea could potentially utilise to put the past behind him. Here’s what you need to know:
The expert view
David Hytner (@davidhytner) David de Gea must be relishing the chance to face Old Boys: have had four defeats in his last 10 away appearances in Europe, last won 3-0 at Ravenna in November 2016 pic.twitter.com/4cJHZBj30q
Francesco Vicens (@Hyphenophone) Positives/negatives for Manchester United as the clubs begin: 1-1 draw at home is a signal United are progressing and have the attitude to win, but Alex Ferguson wouldn’t dream of playing this sort of game!2-1 away win is good but below expected in that circumstance, 3-0 or 3-2 is more positive and you’d expect United to win comfortably.
Other things you should know
• Manchester United manager José Mourinho said it was “impossible” to play in the Champions League group stage and described the draw as “brutal” and “unpleasant”.
• Manchester United will have to adapt their top of the league form. The last time they won three on the trot was in 1972.
• In Sweden, Manchester United will have to contend with a rather unusual midweek fixture – and 18,437 Malmo fans in the Bernabéu.
The Champions League looks a much improved affair under Uefa’s new playoff format, but it still remains the biggest, baddest stage in world football. The first match should be interesting and 1pm BST kick-off tips the form of the teams with the biggest name heads against each other. Follow The Guardian’s team of experts to hear their verdicts on the key matches and pick the winners.