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Starting XI Prediction: Manchester United v Liverpool – UEFA Europa League 2015/16

Manchester United are looking to overturn the scoreline of 2-0 in order to continue their run in the Europa League. On the surface it doesn’t look a big deficit to overcome but with the poor run of form and display by Louis van Gaal and his troops, it just seems too big a task to accomplish. As if it wasn’t enough, United are set to face their city rivals Manchester City only three days from the Liverpool game. Keeping in mind how crucial both the games are, it will be a tricky task to pick teams for Van Gaal.

Resting players did not bring any good results last time it was done against West Bromwich Albion, where United had a chance of going level on points with City and just two points off Arsenal. It did not go as per the plan and hence the Dutchman has to be careful while deciding on picking up the team for the Liverpool game.

Formation:

Van Gaal will probably setup the same formation, with two holding midfielders ahead of four man backline. Will it be a decent option against Jürgen Klopp’s high pressing game, it needs to be seen, but 4-2-3-1 will most likely be the preferred setup irrespectively, as it has been all the season.

Starting XI (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

The Spanish number one has kept United still in the tie, barely, but still in there. He made a couple of outstanding saves and managed to avoid what easily could have been a 3-0 or 4-0 loss. His job in the second leg is even tougher, considering even one goal would mean, United have to score four to go through. Now that doesn’t seem likely, does it?

Full Backs – Guillermo Varela (RB) and Matteo Darmian (LB)

Varela has really made the right back position his own and has only grown strides with each game. He was one of the better players on the pitch against West Ham United in the FA Cup quarter finals. With him nailing his position Darmian might be deployed on the left hand side of the pitch. The Italian has shown earlier in the season that he can play on the left hand side of the defense as well and with Daley Blind looking wear out, Darmian might be a good bet on the left.

Central Defenders – Chris Smalling and Marcus Rojo

With Blind struggling to keep up with the speed and intensity of the game, a rest might be in order and Rojo can be brought in to the center in order to accommodate it. The Argentinian has been mostly used as a full back by Van Gaal since his return from the injury but he would be better of in the center of the backline. With Smalling alongside him, who has been patchy since his return from the injury, might be able to nullify the attacking threat that Liverpool poses.

Defensive Midfielders – Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick

Bastian Schweinsteiger made all the difference after he came on the pitch in the last game against West Ham. Hope the manager saw what almost every supporter witnessed because keeping Marouane Fellaini in the midfield is like crippling yourself. However, the manager also mentioned clearly that the world cup winning captain is not yet fit enough to start a game. This means it is either Fellaini or Carrick in the midfield and every United supporter should pray to the almighty that it is anyone but big Belgian. Schneiderlin has always been great defensively but if paired with Fellaini, puts him under pressure of recycling and transitioning the ball from defense to attack all by himself. This itself should be a reason enough to keep Fellaini far from the team.

Number Ten – Ander Herrera

The Spaniard was excellent versus West Hame, pity that it did not count for anything but a draw. His assist for Martial in that game was as good as you can get. However, his energy and exuberance in the final third is what makes the most difference. He brings Juan Mata’s creativity but along with that also brings in aggression. The players will have to show a lot of fight and passion during this game against Liverpool and there are only a few who can do that better than Herrera. The fans will have their eye out for this one.

Front three – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Memphis Depay

The reason why the wingers and striker have not been mentioned separately is because there has to be some sort of dynamism in the front three. For instance, Martial can start up front but can get pulled in to the left hand side with Memphis taking up the striker’s role. Similar switching up between these three and with their pace and creativity that all of them possess, they can cause havoc in the backline. The best positions with respect to the team would be to have Memphis on the left and Rashford on the right with Martial up front. But as mentioned, the positions can be switched up during the game and will help add the unpredictability to the attack and also make things tricky for the markers.

Written by Chinmay Padhye

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