Starting XI Prediction: Mourinho to play youth and test counter-attacking 3-5-2?

Manchester United concluded the pre-season tour of the United States with an underwhelming 1-0 loss to Barcelona after a defensive error that made the difference against one of the best outfits in the world. Now, the Reds travel to Norway ahead of the new campaign to contest Norwegian side Valerenga, and with many players available for selection, it is difficult to determine exactly whom will start the match.

Starting XI and Formation Prediction: 3-5-2

Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all featured heavily against Barcelona, meaning that Jose Mourinho is likely to return to the 3-5-2 formation that United deployed against LA Galaxy. Mourinho declared his desire to test the formation in case the Red Devils plan on using it during the season, and injuries in the squad make it a sensible choice for the match.

Ander Herrera and Juan Mata may return from injury, but Jose Mourinho won’t risk them in friendlies if they aren’t fully fit, meaning the likely result will be an appearance against Sampdoria. Lingard also struggled with an injury late in the match, and after being the only player to start all five pre-season matches, he is most likely to appear off the bench.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea was at his all-action best against Barcelona, bailing United out from what could have been an embarrassment after Daley Blind and Chris Smalling were torn apart by Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. While Sergio Romero impressed viewers in the second half as well, Joel Pereira should feature instead against Valerenga.

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe

Lindelof and Smalling started against Barcelona, with the latter being turned over and the former looking unfit. Thus, Lindelof should start again in the centre of defence, joined by Bailly, who looked bright despite not being fully match fit against Barcelona, and Tuanzebe, who needs to feature for more than ten minutes.

Midfielders: Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Andreas Pereira, Demetri Mitchell

Paul Pogba played 90 minutes against Barcelona and should be restricted to a third of that against Valerenga. The result will be Carrick, who seems to be getting into shape, Fellaini, who could play an effective role as the advanced midfielder in the trio, and Andreas Pereira, who should be ahead of Fellaini in an orthodox central midfield role. Scott McTominay should also feature in the second half, with Fellaini likely being the only player to complete the whole match.

On the wings, Fosu-Mensah will start after being benched for the full 90 minutes against Barcelona, and Mitchell deserves a chance at left-wing back as he could compete with Luke Shaw and Darmian if he continues his form from his first few matches. Darmian and Valencia should replace Fosu-Mensah and Mitchell in the second half.

Forwards: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial

The ultimate counter-attacking duo of Mkhitaryan and Martial could prove to be quite threatening against Valerenga, with United hopefully testing a system that uses Fellaini to beat the opposition with a direct pass before moving the play to Mkhitaryan and Martial. With Mata ruled out and Rashford and Lukaku playing a lot of minutes in the previous match, expect the latter duo to replace Mkhitaryan and Martial after 60 minutes.

Written by Aaron Moniz


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