x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

A draw will do for Manchester United in Switzerland

Sir Alex Ferguon's side will reach last 16 of Champions League if they avoid defeat against Basel. The last time they missed out on the knockout stages was 2005/06.

Manchester United could turn to Danny Welbeck to solve their injury problems in attack as they tackle Basel tonight needing a draw to reach the Champions League last 16.

United lost Javier Hernandez to an ankle injury at the weekend and with Dimitar Berbatov ruled out with his own ankle problem, Welbeck is likely to start despite only just returning from a muscle strain sustained on England duty on November 12.

"We think with Hernandez that it's torn ankle ligaments unfortunately," Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said after Saturday's 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

"That will keep him out for a month. We're having a torrid time with injuries at the moment.

"But Danny Welbeck came back at Villa, got some time on the pitch, and he gives us an option.

"He's not had a lot of football recently so it's something I'll have to consider."

Victory at Villa Park represented United's fourth 1-0 win in five league games since their 6-1 humiliation at home to Manchester City, but they continue to stutter in cup competitions.

Ferguson's side were knocked out of the League Cup by second-tier Crystal Palace last week and have picked up only two wins from their five Champions League group games to date.

The 2-2 draw at home to Benfica in their last game gifted the Portuguese giants a place in the knockout phase and means United must not lose at Basel to avoid what would be only the third group-stage exit in their history.

United last went out at this stage in 2005/06 and tonight's game will take place exactly five years to the day since the 2-1 loss at Benfica that abruptly curtailed their involvement in that season's tournament.

Back then, United needed a win to go through, but at Basel's St Jakob-Park stadium, a draw will suffice.

The hosts, though, will be gunning for a famous upset and, despite having only once reached the knockout rounds before, they will be buoyed by the 3-3 draw they took from Old Trafford in the reverse fixture on September 17.

Alexander Frei, the striker, says that Basel's performance in Manchester gave Heiko Vogel's side belief that they could compete with Europe's elite.

"The guys are really proud we got a 3-3 draw and it is something that will stay with them for the rest of their careers," the Swiss international told the Uefa website.

"But the way I see it, it was more important for the future in general - when it happens, it's absolutely amazing and something we may never experience again at Basel, but it shows that we have a future in Uefa competition."

11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +4