Manchester United will be very much dependent on striker Romelu Lukaku if they are to have any success in the Champions League. José Mourinho’s charges travel to Switzerland for their opening round fixture against BSC Young Boys on Wednesday evening.
Lukaku, who joined United last summer, scored five goals in eight games in last season’s Champions League campaign and they will be needing him to continue the same trend this time around.
United made it to the Round of 16 last season before slumping to a shock 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the second leg at Old Trafford.
United’s early exit meant their season was seen as rather disappointing, given the club and manager’s successful record in previous European competition.
Mourinho’s men will, however, need to be ruthless come tomorrow and the likes of Lukaku and Paul Pogba would need to be the men who lead the team to that level of competitiveness. Due to United’s problems at the back, a strong midfield domination could set up players like Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez to fire.
Sanchez in particular could use the Champions League to finally get his United career up and running. The Chile international has had a very slow start and is yet to make his presence felt.
Lukaku has been on target in the Red Devils’ previous two Premier League matches, scoring against Burnley and Watford, taking his tally up to four goals so far this season, only one behind Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.
The Belgian’s goals against FC Basel, CSKA Moscow, Benfica and Sevilla in last season’s Champions League gave the club’s fans a glimpse of what the big centre forward can do on the biggest stage.
The stiker’s criticisms have never been too far away and in general, the whole Manchester United squad have been feeling the heat at times after an average start to the season.
An early statement away to Young Boys could ease the pressure on Mourinho and his team, while a third consecutive win would give big name players like Lukaku and Pogba much more freedom to express themselves on the pitch going forward this season.