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Raphael Varane’s freakishly unlucky Champions League opening game hat-trick

Raphael Varane played 45 minutes of Manchester United’s Champions League match at Young Boys.

Varane was a second half substitute with United switching to a back five, over-compensating for having a man sent off.

The French defender played well, making seven clearances. This was more than any other United centre-back made in 90 minutes.

United eventually succumbed to a 2-1 defeat, losing the opening group game in farcical circumstances due to an errant late backpass from Jesse Lingard.

BSC Young Boys v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Varane’s unwanted three in a row

United’s bad result in Switzerland now means Raphael Varane has now lost his last three Champions League group stage openers in a row.

In 2019, Varane’s Real Madrid were beaten 3-0 away at Paris Saint-Germain to open their group.

They went on to win three games and draw two to qualify on 11 points.

In 2020 Varane’s Real Madrid lost their opener in a shock 3-2 home defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Real won three games, drew one and lost one, qualifying for the knockout stages with 10 points.

The 2-1 loss at Young Boys completed an unwanted hat-trick for the decorated French defender.

Now he needs to lead Manchester United to bounce back in a similar way Real did in both seasons.

Varane has plenty of positive Champions League memories, winning the competition four times.

The opening game results are more of a freakish coincidence than anything to do with his own performances.

BSC Young Boys v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

When was Varane last rested for a group game?

It was a peculiar decision from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rest his big new defensive summer signing for the Champions League opener.

Had Varane already been on the pitch, Solskjaer may not have needed to make an emergency call to bring on an extra centre-back at half-time after going down to 10 men. Clearly at that point, he saw the benefit of having the Frenchman on the pitch.

Varane doesn’t sit on the bench in group games very often. He played every single group game for Real Madrid in 2020 and 2019.

The last time he missed a group stage match was in December 2018 when he sat out against CSKA Moscow, a game Real lost without him. They did win their opener that year, beating Roma 3-0.

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