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Following their third-place finish in the 2019-20 Premier League, Manchester United secured their place in this season’s UEFA Champions League. Having returned to the elite competition for European club football, the Manchester-based club drew Istanbul Basaksehir, Paris Saint-Germain, and RB Leipzig in Group H. Although a tough challenge awaits United if they are to reach the latter stages of the competition, they’ll need Marcus Rashford to deliver consistently. So, let’s take a look at whether the 22-year-old can take Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side back to the pinnacle of European football.
After an opening win in the Champions League over the reigning French champions, PSG, at the Parc des Princes, United secured back-to-back victories with a 5-0 home win over Leipzig. The decisive player in both matches was Rashford, who has long been the shining light in a struggling Red Devils team. When called upon from the bench, the Wythenshawe-born attacker found the net on three occasions in just 16 minutes to put the game beyond Julian Nagelsmann’s German outfit. Not only that, but the 22-year-old also scored an 87-minute winner against PSG on matchday one.
Over the years, United have had numerous players to call upon to get them over the line in tight matches. From Cristiano Ronaldo to Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy, a shortage of goals was never an issue at Old Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. However, if the three-time European Cup winners are to add another Champions League triumph to their name, then Rashford will need to become the go-to goalscorer. Interestingly, Solskjaer believes that improving the “ugly side” of the 22-year-old's game will see him establish himself as a world-class player, thus becoming the Rooney of his era.
For United, having been knocked off of their perch in both the Premier League and in Europe, recapturing their past glory is essential. In this regard, the Red Devils could follow in Liverpool’s recent footsteps. Prior to Jurgen Klopp’s side clinching the top-flight trophy in 2019-20, the Reds reached two European finals in the previous two years, winning their sixth European Cup in 2018-19 after defeating Tottenham Hotspur. According to an article by Bleacher Report, Ferguson, United’s most successful manager, holds the Champions League in higher regard than the World Cup, which is why the trophy is prioritised by many teams.
It’s a testament to the appeal and format of the Champions League that it’s become a staple of pop culture within the 21st century. Along with being a central part of both the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer video game franchises, online casinos have also sought to replicate the action-packed nature of the competition. For example, the Play Ojo casino review at BonusFinder states that prospective players can enjoy free spins and an array of games through the operator, including the sports-themed Football: Champions Cup, which is a five-reel slot that embraces the sport’s much-loved knockout format.
Despite his youthfulness, there can be no doubt that Rashford is spearheading United’s pursuit of titles in 2020-21. His form in the Champions League gives the Red Devils a ruthless cutting edge that they’ve long been missing, and that could be the difference between success and failure.