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Key Battles: Real Salt Lake even worse than LA Galaxy

Manchester United’s next pre-season match against Real Salt Lake promises to be the easiest one on the tour, against one of the worst teams in the MLS that is in the middle of a stretch of relatively poor form. However, tactically, there are a few battles on the pitch that promise to be quite interesting, particularly with the notion that Jose Mourinho could be reverting to a back four on Monday evening in Salt Lake City.

Playing at high altitude, United’s defenders and midfielders will be responsible for preventing the opposition from playing their possession football, and they have weaknesses when it comes to maintenance in possession, which means Jose Mourinho will be eager to test out his pressing systems on Monday. Real Salt Lake also have a variety of tactically unique players who could pose threats to United when at their best.

Defensive Midfield: Michael Carrick vs Albert Rusnak

Real Salt Lake’s best player, by far, is Rusnak, who, playing behind the striker, offers creative spark and threat from range. Michael Carrick looked timelessly good against LA Galaxy and is an incredible midfielder when used sporadically, but it’s up to him to prove he can be a sporadic player for this season and many more to come because I believe he can go for a very long time.

This isn’t the match to prove anything, but it will be a decent test for Carrick, a player whose cerebral football hasn’t outgrown his legs and likely won’t for a very long time. He just needs to remain refreshed and able to play those neat, quick forward passes to United’s advanced midfielders, and he could be a seriously important player for United for another season yet.

Manchester United vs Liverpool: Demetri Mitchell vs Brooks Lennon

With United more likely to play a back four, Demetri Mitchell could be pitted against Brooks Lennon in one-half of the match. The young American forward, playing as a right-winger, is on loan at Real Salt Lake from parent club Liverpool, where he would hope to have a future or at least use as a springboard for a career in England.

This match will attract many viewers from the United Kingdom, and thus, he will be eager to impress his viewers against one of the top clubs in the country. It won’t be easy, though, as Mitchell has been superb from left-back since his conversion from forward positions, showing shades of Marcelo, who was also an attacking player in his youth days. He’ll be equally eager to impress, as there’s a small speck of light for a young left-back at United given Luke Shaw’s injury.

Nick Rimando and Matt van Oekel vs The World

Real Salt Lake goalkeepers Nick Rimando and Matt van Oekel will know they’re in for a massive battle against United. Given the way United assaulted LA Galaxy’s goal, and the fact Real Salt Lake posts significantly worse defensive numbers, Rimando and van Oekel will be busy trying to keep out the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, and the rest of United’s deep attacking unit.

Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe was effective on a few occasions, producing an excellent save to deny Romelu Lukaku his debut goal after the Belgian managed to put his effort on target. However, the standard of goalkeeping was largely poor from LA Galaxy, and one would hope for better awful goalkeeping from Real Salt Lake to frustrate allow United to score goals.

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