Manchester United vs PSG: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on why his side can spring Champions League 'surprise'

Mark Critchley

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes that Manchester United have what it takes to “surprise” European football’s elite in the Champions League knockout stages.

United welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Old Trafford on Tuesday night in the first leg of their last-16 tie, harbouring hopes of reaching a first quarter-final since 2014.

Few would have backed United to overcome the Ligue 1 champions when the draw was made back in December, a day after the 3-1 Premier League defeat away to Liverpool.

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But after Jose Mourinho was sacked that same week, Solskjaer became the club’s caretaker manager and he has since recorded 10 wins in 11 matches.

PSG, meanwhile, look more vulnerable than they did two months ago. Thomas Tuchel’s side will be without Neymar in both legs after the world’s most expensive player was ruled out with a foot injury.

Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier are also unavailable for Tuesday night’s first leg after falling victim to hip and head problems respectively.

There is renewed hope at Old Trafford that United can safely navigate their way to the last eight and Solskjaer believes his players are capable of overcoming any other team.

“The squad is very capable of winning against any opponent,” he said on Monday. ”When we go into games confident as we are now, we are looking forward to the game but we can’t look too far ahead.

“We have to look to PSG and make sure we go through this one and then take the next challenge as it comes.

“I have been very pleased with the attitude. I said to the boys, if we keep working every day in training, when we work hard we work hard and when we have lighter training we concentrate, we can improve and maybe surprise a few.”

Solskjaer was back in his native Norway at the time of the last-16 draw, preparing for a new season with ‘parent club’ Molde, and did not foresee leading United out in the knockout stages.

“Of course I didn’t know. I was watching it with [his son] Noah and said: ‘Wow, that is a tough challenge.’

“But we have given ourselves the best possible opportunity in the way we have gone into this game because we’re confident.

“I have found out what kind of team we have, we are looking a team in the playing style Anthony [Martial] that was talking about.

“We are agreeing on how we should approach games, so if there was any time to go into big games like this it is now for us.”

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