Manchester United take on Villarreal tomorrow in a pivotal Champions League matchup in Spain.
Both teams are tied atop of the group with seven points. Only two games remain in the group stage. Even a point could be useful for Manchester United on the road. United host Young Boys to finish the group, even they lost in Switzerland, they should look at that game with three points in mind.
Manchester United Squad
If United come out and take the game at Villarreal and win well they could flip momentum in their season. At this point getting to the knockout round of the Champions League is a success. A smash and grab could be another route, and even inspire the same.
Bruno Fernandes has been impacting the game in other ways for Manchester United his deep passing has been superb, but if he only gets one or two chances in a match, he should finish, he has the quality.
The calls for Donny van de Beek to play from the fans has been loud and frequent for some time. It is a common talking point and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would say something like, “Donny works really hard, he is a great player and if he continues to work hard, he can be a great player,”
If you do not like him, just say it. It was rough to watch the treatment of a player who has a lot of passion, he obviously wants to play. Not just play, but the passion to work hard. His tackle on Sarr this weekend was a little dirty, but at least he went in and put a tackle on someone. At least he showed some physicality.
That has not been the theme this season at United. There are a lot of physical players on United, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Luke Shaw are all physical players. Even Bruno likes to get dirty every now and then, but it has not been enough. The best tackle this season came from a box-to-box midfielder who has played a handful of minutes.
DVB needs to play against Villarreal, they need a midfielder who can play a pass between the lines, a player that can help break down the Villarreal low block. If they lose the ball high up the pitch, you need a guy who is going to sell out in the middle to help break up the transition, Villarreal like to defend and counter.
This could be a game for Alex Telles and his ability to put in a cross. Ronaldo has become one of the most dangerous target men in the world, his ability to leap is astounding. United need to utilize that ability more with crosses in the box.
It will be interesting what Carrick does in other defensive positions. Ole favored Victor Lindelof a bit more than Eric Bailly lately. Bailly’s athletic abilities could be a boost, but he has made some mistakes in the past. Diogo Dalot could also feature for AWB he had one of his worst games in a United shirt against Watford.
The defense has grown a little comfortable when Ole was in charge, they need to be pushed more and changing it up could lead to more competition in the side, thus creating better players overall.
If you are not going to use the players that cost millions on the bench, might as well sell them when they have value instead of letting them leave on a free. Some of these players were bought with the intention to switch it up. Telles and Dalot are good players and every now and then they should get a game.
You need squad rotation because you need your top players to be fresh. A game like Watford is the opportunity to play a rotated squad, so they could be fresh for an important Champions League game. Ole was forced to pick his best side against Watford because of the pressure on him.
Carrick has to keep Chelsea in mind at the weekend. I do not think United are going to win the league, I think most would agree, but if they want to qualify for Champions League next season, which are the minimum of standards at United, this Chelsea game is important to keep pace, every league game is really, but Chelsea a are a top club at the moment.
United should relish in those opportunities to play other big teams, not be worried.
For the Villarreal match I would go with de Gea, AWB, Maguire, Bailly, Telles, Matic, DVB, Bruno, Rashford, Ronaldo, Sancho.
That is what I would do, I think defensively these guys can handle the Villarreal attack. They need to take the game to Villarreal and get a good result. A win would almost guarantee the knockout rounds, it would bust the ghosts of the Europa League Final and boost spirits for the match against Chelsea.
Maguire will miss Chelsea because of a ban, so he is likely to play. I would give him some time off, but can see why Carrick will pick him. Lindelof is good at times and could start over Bailly. I like Bailly because of the counter, someone athletic to break stuff up, he played well in their last encounter.
Carrick has not had much time and could keep it Ole with only a day really to prep. The players that are likely missing were out this weekend.
The yellow submarine are not doing so hot in La Liga this season. In Champions League they should have beat United at Old Trafford, but Ronaldo. A draw against Atalanta in their first game and two wins against Young Boys give them seven in the group and tied with United.
Villarreal are like a Leicester, tactically not so much, but where they are in their league because of their involvement in Europe. Villarreal currently sit in the 12th spot in the league, just like Leicester. They both have good players and are capable of more in their leagues.
Villarreal lack wins, only three in their first 13 games. They have seven draws this season. Villarreal have a tough time seeing out games this season and give up late goals often. Another one this weekend against Celta Vigo.
Dalot got torched the last game by Arnaut Danjuma, but luckily he is hurt at the moment and is in doubt for the match. Star striker Gerard Moreno has been out for awhile and is out for the match. Etienne Capoue and Paco Alcacer join Danjuma as doubtful for the match.
Dalot could see minutes if Danjuma is out, but it might be too risky to start him tomorrow.
Villarreal have some injury problems to key players in their attack. Defensively they have been consistent and injury free. Juan Foyth, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres and Alfonso Pedraza cover Geronimo Rulli. Villarreal are tied for third best in goals allowed in La Liga this season.
Unai Emery knows this game is important, especially with their final game being against Atalanta, a draw could see the top three teams with 8 points. Atalanta will probably beat Young Boys. Villarreal has a good goal differential and could draw out the next two matches and qualify for the knockout round.
A win for either United or Villarreal would put either in the driver seat to qualify for the knockout rounds. The yellow submarine do not really have the firepower right now to go for it.
It is hard to expect much from a team with a caretaker manager. The quality is there and sometimes you cannot put your guard down against a wounded animal. I think Emery will leave his guard up, but United still have the quality to win even if Villarreal plays tight.