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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United will relish Leipzig decider

Everton v Manchester United – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Paul Ellis)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s players will rise to the occasion as they head into the make-or-break Champions League clash at RB Leipzig without Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial.

Having kicked off Group H with victory at Paris St Germain before putting on a five-star display against the German side, subsequent slip-ups mean the Red Devils approach their final fixture level on nine points with both teams.

United’s 3-1 loss at home to PSG last week saw them blow the chance to seal progress with a match to spare, but a positive result at high-flying Bundesliga outfit Leipzig will be enough to reach the knockout phase.

West Ham United v Manchester United – Premier League – London Stadium

Anthony Martial was forced off at West Ham (Adam Davy/PA)

An unwanted Europa League campaign awaits if they falter against last season’s Champions League semi-finalists, but Solskjaer believes his players will prove their worth with qualification hanging in the balance.

“Knockout games or games like this that mean you can go through or not are big,” the United boss said.

“The players are here, they are Man United players, because they have qualities that we’ve looked for and I’m sure that tomorrow night will prove that’s the reason why they’re here, they will show it.

“I think the character of the group is getting better and better and we’re looking forward to the game.

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“It’s something that we want, games like this. It’s a tradition for Man United – we never make it easy for ourselves.

“Of course we look at the games, especially the away game against Istanbul (Basaksehir) that we could have got three points, but that’s just the way we do things.

“We do make it hard for ourselves. That’s been ever since I played and that’s a long, long time ago.”

United’s task at the Red Bull Arena will be made tougher by the absence of three first-team players.

Manchester United v Paris Saint Germain – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford

Fred is suspended after two bookings against PSG (Martin Rickett/PA)

Fred is suspended following last week’s red card against PSG, while attackers Cavani and Martial have not travelled after sustaining knocks in Saturday’s 3-1 comeback victory at West Ham.

“David (De Gea) is back again, Luke (Shaw) is travelling,” Solskjaer said of his 23-strong travelling squad.

“Edinson and Anthony, they’ve only minor niggles but they won’t be making the trip.

“You get to the last game of the group stage and you’re in the next round if you go and win that game or you get a draw so it’s an important game. Of course it is.”

United can draw confidence from the fact they have won eight of their nine away matches in all competitions this season, including comeback wins in all five Premier League triumphs on the road.

Manchester United v RB Leipzig – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford

Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Leipzig at Old Trafford (Nick Potts/PA)

Solskjaer’s side have struggled to match that form at an empty Old Trafford, although they did romp to a 5-0 victory there against Leipzig.

“You can’t ignore it,” the United boss said of that stunning October win. “Of course it’s a game that we’ll remember fondly because we did many things right – and we need to do lots of things right again.

“But we should also correct the few wrongs that we had and we will. We’ve prepared well. We know Leipzig well enough to know that they’re unpredictable in their shape or systems but we know the players and the style they play in.

“We know it’s going to be a very difficult game, a tough game that we need to be at our best to get a result from.”