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How Manchester United could look in a 4-2-2-2 formation against Barcelona; Rashford and Lukaku supported by Martial and Lingard

Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening, entertaining reigning La Liga champions and league leaders Barcelona. It will be a tough match for United, knowing that Lionel Messi will once again be tormenting the back four, which could see United capitulate this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find the best team to face the Catalan club after losing three of their last six matches in all competitions. United has been in poor form for the last four matches after beating Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital. That will be a worry for Solskjaer ahead of this battle, although it is only the first leg.

The players will need to be on their best behaviour also with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Antonia Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera all one card away from a one-match suspension. Valencia won’t play a part in the game so it is one less player to worry about. Barcelona has Nelson Semedo a booking away from a suspension.

United and Barcelona have played 11 competitive matches in the history of both clubs, dating back to the first match which was played on the 7 March 1984, a 2-0 defeat in the UEFA European Cup Winner’s Cup, however, a 3-0 home win followed a fortnight later. United has won three matches, drawn four times and lost four times. This will be a big match for United.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been in questionable form this season and rumours suggest he wants to leave the club this summer. However, until anyone of note says anything, they are just rumours. Against Barcelona, De Gea should be looking to regain his form and be that wall that could stop Lionel Messi et al from scoring at the Theatre of Dreams.

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Defence: Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

United has not kept a clean sheet since that 0-0 draw against Liverpool back in February. Ashley Young and Luke Shaw will play in the fullback positions, however, both are a booking away from a suspension. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof should be trusted in the centre of defence as recently, they have played well together.

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Midfield Two: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield needs changing up a little bit. For weeks, Solskjaer has been playing a predominant midfield three. There were suggestions that Paul Pogba could play in a similar role to how he has played for France but that cannot be alongside Nemanja Matic as he is pretty slow and does not give Pogba the freedom to break forward. Ander Herrera could have done that but now Scott McTominay might have to, due to injury.

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Wingers: Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial

This is a formation untested by United this season but in effect, it is a 4-4-2 formation with a slight difference. With Rashford and Lukaku likely to lead the line, it is important that they are supported by quick players who are able to play to the best of their abilities. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are the two that should be chosen.

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Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku

I am working on the basis that both Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are fit to face Barcelona. There are no known problems with the Belgian’s fitness, however, Rashford missed the defeat to Wolves last week. Both being fit and ready to go could give United the best possible start, especially if they are supported by Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.

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Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred

Having strength on the bench is important as Solskjaer will need to utilise his substitutes more than ever at this stage of the season. There are no forward on my predicted bench but plenty of talent to fill in where needed. We might even see the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes or Mason Greenwood, which would be great for any of the trio.

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