Manchester United midfielder Fred was walking a tightrope long before his red card against PSG.

Every United fan watching was crying out for the Brazilian to be replaced after he avoided an earlier dismissal. Instead, Fred remained on the field and was ultimately given his marching orders in the 70th minute.

That was just 60 seconds after United fell behind for the second time in a game they really should have won.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had replaced Fred earlier, United would have seen out the game with 11 men and potentially avoided defeat. In so doing, they would have also secured qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Instead, United head to Germany for a winner-takes-all clash against RB Leipzig. And that is where things get interesting.

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Fred’s red card last week may not only affect one result. After all, United’s 5-0 win in the reverse fixture against Leipzig owed a lot to the no-nonsense Brazilian.

Outstanding in reverse fixture

United’s strikers may have taken the headlines in that match, but those further back were also vital. None more so than Fred.

 

Marcus Rashford’s hat-trick and goals from Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial sealed the win. Yet Fred was his quiet but effective best in midfield, dominating in one of United’s best performances of the campaign.

Fred touched the ball 72 times in that clash; more than any United player apart from Harry Maguire. The Brazilian also made three interceptions, three clearances and played two key passes.

Dispossessed just once all game, United’s £47million man (BBC) ensured the dirty work was done so the club’s forwards could shine.

Now, with United needing a point to finish in the top two, the absence of Fred could be integral.

The 27-year-old has been one of United’s best performers this season and, while he was reckless on Wednesday, his importance remains.

Solskjaer must now pick a side without him; one that gets the job done and ensures Fred has not kicked his last ball in the Champions League this season.

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