Manchester United have already booked their ticket to the knockout round when they defeated Villarreal a fortnight ago in Spain.
Tomorrow they will face Young Boys with nothing on the line, because of a new rule in the Champions League, even if the Red Devils were defeated by Young Boys and Villarreal win, United still win the group because head-to-head records count more than goal differential this season.
United are in a terrific spot to rest key players with the congestion of the upcoming festive fixtures closing in on them. This is an opportunity for Ralf Rangnick to assess whether players are capable of his system, maybe even some starters will have a run because of that.
Young Boys still have something to play for and that is Europa League possibilities. Young Boys are rooted at the bottom of the group with 4 points. A win at Old Trafford and Atalanta losing to Villarreal will lift the Swiss club into third.
Young Boys famously defeated United at their place to kick-off the group. Jordan Pefok, the American international scored the game winner late to give Young Boys the unlikely victory.
At the very least this is an opportunity for the Swiss side to showcase their talents on a big stage. Pefok is currently chasing a shot at making the United States national team roster ahead of the World Cup in the summer. The striker position is wide open on the team and he would look to impress.
Pefok has 10 in 21 competitive games this season and could lead the line against United. David Wagner’s side is a little banged up. A few players that took part in the first match against United are out.
First choice keeper David von Ballmoos is out, Christian Fassnacht a fantastic player is also out and Ulisses Garcia is out. Garcia played really well at left-back the last time the two clubs faced off. They will also be without a couple
In their last Champions League outing they drew 3-3 against Atalanta. The terrific match was leveled by Luis Muriel late to steal a point for Atalanta. The two clubs are not far apart geographically and on the pitch that night, but Young Boys could not finish off Atalanta.
The three points would have been huge going into the United match, especially in the fight for the third.
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As I mentioned earlier this is an opportunity for Rangnick to experiment a bit, to gauge his squad and he has already confirmed that Donny van de Beek and Dean Henderson will be in the starting XI tomorrow night.
“I haven’t finally decided to be honest. It definitely makes sense that we will rest a few players because of the crowded fixture list over the next few weeks and months. We need to make sure we have enough recovery as possible, also for the Premier League, but, on the other hand, we need to keep our positive momentum,” said Rangnick.
“To start with both will play tomorrow in the first XI and as you saw, Donny came on as a sub last Sunday. Dean is a very good ambitious goalkeeper, we definitely need two goalkeepers,” said Rangnick when asked about whether Donny and Dean are going to go out on loan in January.