It turned out to be anything but, with Basel coming out for the second half the far better side and scoring in the 88th-minute when they could have done so far earlier, being honest. The Swede played a crucial role in their three trophies last season, having joined fromParis Saint-Germain on a free transfer in the previous summer.
Mkhitaryan, 28, was left out of the squad that defeated Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday and the Armenian cut a lonely figure at training this week.
Michael Carrick also remains absent through injury.
Ibrahimovic has played for Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, PSG and United in the Champions League, though he has never won the trophy.
"Zlatan goes on the bench tomorrow", Mourinho confirmed in his pre-match press conference.
Several hours before Man United's Champions League away match at Basel, three players have gone missing.
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Then, right on cue, the opening chords from R.E.M.'s classic 1992 song " Everybody Hurts " boomed from the speakers. They put me to shame, but still opened up their art form to me.
"If we are in a winning position, like we were against Newcastle", the coach stated. "We need him on the pitch, because he keeps the ball, he keeps possession". He drops into areas where he gives stability to the team. Romelu Lukaku needed someone to create for him, Pogba was doing it but Mkhitaryan wasn't.
"It was a good cross and he came round the back and I was a little too late. But [he is in] no condition to start".
- Phil Jones still in recovery from critical injury.
Mourinho had expressed concern about the pitch at St Jakob-Park after it was replaced following heavy damage during Switzerland's recent World Cup play-off with Northern Ireland.
"I was surprised", Smalling admitted to the gathered press in Basel. So I can imagine, next week, you are going to ask - why is this player not playing?
"While I'm playing regularly and part of a very successful team," the defender proclaimed".