Man Utd’s rocky relationship with PSG as Ronaldo and Messi set for Champions League duel

In pictures: Norwich v Man Utd

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Manchester United will go up against Paris Saint-Germain for the third season in four years after the two teams were drawn together in the Champions League knockout stages. It promises to be a fascinating showdown, especially with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo poised to play a part. And the rocky relationship between the two teams is also another exciting subplot.

Manchester United were initially drawn against Villarreal on Monday after a blunder.

But they’ll now be facing PSG instead in the headline tie of the round.

It means United will once again lock horns with their Ligue 1 counterparts. Matters on the pitch have been enthralling, as well as sagas on it.

United first faced PSG in the Champions League in the 2018/2019 campaign, just months after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had replaced Jose Mourinho.

Fans at Old Trafford served up a hostile reception for Angel Di Maria, who returned to his old club after leaving the Premier League giants in 2015.

PSG were livid when Ashley Young barged the Argentina international into the stands, with fans gleefully mocking the forward as he lay injured on the turf.

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Referee Daniele Orsato, however, opted against dismissing the current Aston Villa star – much to the dismay of the Ligue 1 side.

PSG ended up having the last laugh on the night, though, winning 2-0 with Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe on target.

United then travelled to the Parc des Princes looking for a miracle to keep them into the competition.

And more drama unfolded in the next fixture.

United won 3-1 on a magical night in Paris, with Romelu Lukaku scoring twice before Marcus Rashford’s late penalty sent Solskjaer’s side through.

Once again, however, PSG were enraged.


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Diogo Dalot’s wild shot struck Kimpembe on the arm and the decision to award a penalty appeared harsh. Neymar, standing injured on the sidelines, went viral for his baffled reaction.

Thomas Tuchel, manager of PSG at the time, was furious.

“From my point of view I watched Dalot take the shot,” he said. ”I saw the ball flying straight from his foot and for me it was clear it was going way over the bar.

“There are many things to discuss before taking the decision and I think it’s a 50-50 decision. What makes it super hard is I had the clear feeling the shot was not on target, and to get rewarded with a penalty, there is no logic.”

Neymar labelled it a ‘disgrace’, too. He said: “It’s a disgrace.

“Four guys who know nothing about football watch a slow-motion replay in front of the television.

“What can [Kimpembe] do with his hand while his back is turned?”

Unfortunately for PSG, however, the goal was allowed to stand.

United then travelled to Paris for the Champions League group stages last season and won 3-2 in Paris, with Rashford again the hero of the hour.

There was more drama in the return fixture at Old Trafford, though, with the Red Devils the enraged party this time.

They lost 3-1 to their Ligue 1 rivals, with Fred’s red card changing the game before Neymar struck in the closing stages.

Solskjaer insisted the decision to dismiss the Brazilian was the wrong one, venting his fury by saying: “We spoke to him at half-time – and be sensible – and I thought he was. I thought he played really well.

“I thought he was very, very sensible in the second half and he covers the ground, he gets up to men without trying to tackle.

“The ball that he actually gets a yellow card for though, the tackle, that’s nowhere near a foul. So, if you see that again, that’s a mistake by the referee.”

There’s been fireworks on the pitch and drama off it.

United didn’t want to let Di Maria go to PSG in 2015 but felt bullied into letting him go when the forward refused to show up for their pre-season tour of America.

They also were unhappy when Ander Herrera left on a free transfer to join the Ligue 1 giants in 2019, having tried to convince him to stay.

And another interesting subplot will be Mauricio Pochettino’s involvement.

The PSG boss is understood to be United’s No 1 target to take over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

United face an issue though, with the French side unwilling to let him go. They’ve planned for the future under Pochettino and are adamant he’s the right man to manage their star-studded squad.

United are still expected to court the former Tottenham boss when the summer comes around again.

And it’ll be intriguing to see how he fares managing against a team he’s privately keen to join in the future.

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