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11th Sep 2017

Xherdan Shaqiri identifies ‘vulnerable’ Man United’s area of weakness ahead of Champions League return

Shaqiri will be at Old Trafford in Tuesday night

Simon Lloyd

Days on from facing Manchester United in the Premier League, Xherdan Shaqiri will will be watching them at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

After a season out of Europe’s premier club competition, United return to Champions League action against FC Basel – the club at which the Stoke midfielder began his professional career.

Speaking about the game, Shaqiri admits that his former side face a tough evening against United, explaining that Jose Mourinho’s side are much more dominant when playing in their own stadium than they might have appeared in the 2-2 draw at the Bet365 on Saturday evening.

Shaqiri urged Basel to be brave, adding that if United have a weakness, it lies with their backline.

“If they do [have a weakness] it’s with their defence,” the Swiss international is quotes as saying by The Mirror.

“That’s what our goals have shown. If you play quickly and bravely, their defenders will have problems. At the back, Manchester are vulnerable. We are physical and tactical. We did not hide.”

Both of Stoke’s goals came courtesy of defensive errors at the weekend, with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones both to blame. The pair have started all of United’s Premier League games this season but will both be suspended for the meeting with Basel.

Bailly is serving the last of his three-game ban for the red card he picked up in last season’s Europa League semi-final second leg with Celta Vigo at Old Trafford.  Jones was hit with a two-game ban by Uefa for verbally abusing a doping official following the final, three weeks later.

As a result of the suspensions, Jose Mourinho has confirmed Chris Smalling will return to the heart of the United defence, with new signing Victor Lindelöf set to make an appearance, too.