Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United players do not have a lot of time to sulk over their FA Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea. United are scheduled to play Rostov at Old Trafford for the second leg of the round of 16 Europa League tie in a couple of days. Considering the congestion of the fixtures Mourinho needs to be very smart and will have to use up all his experience to overcome the exhaustion of players and avoid any burn outs.
Mourinho already has a lot of problems with the cramped up schedule but to make matters worse also has two of his starters out due to bans. Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be serving their match bans in the Premier League but will be available for the Europa league games. The manager has already stressed the importance of the Europa League considering it can be United’s path to the Champions League spot. In the current circumstances, Mourinho will again want to play his strongestXI for this leg, especially with the game very much still in the balance. Let’s have a look at what might be the starting XI for United against the Russian team.
Starting XI Prediction (4-3-3):
Goalkeeper – Sergio Romero
The manager might again stick to his formula of resting his primary number one and play Romero in goal. Romero has been a dependable replacement for the Spaniard and has taken his chances with both the hands.
Back Four – Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw
Valencia has been United’s most consistent performer this season and Mourinho might look to play him to pocket the tie as early as possible. Bailly who was ruled out for the last game due to the accumulated red card will be available for the selection and will most likely come right back in the squad with Rojo at his side. Shaw might get another opportunity to make an impression with a decent outing the last time he played.
Midfield – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini
This might not be ideal but it does seem necessary. Paul Pogba has been a starter in almost every game off late and might be in need of a breather. This game might be a good opportunity to help him get back to his physical best in order to bring the Premier League campaign back on track. Herrera, with his ban ruling him out for the Premier League game, will be the first player on the team sheet along with Ibrahimovic. This midfield three might be challenged for pace and creativity but Mourinho might want to rotate it a bit thinking ahead.
Front three – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford
United had a lot of problems with their frontline in the game against Chelsea but with Ibrahimovic back for the European games, it might make things a little bit easier. Rashford, who fought illness to make an appearance against Chelsea will hopefully be 100% fit for this tie. With a question mark over Martial’s availability, Rashford’s presence will be of great help for United. Mkhitaryan who had to be brought off due to Herrera’s red card in the FA Cup tie will also be almost a certainty for United.
The Europa League games should be treated as crucial from here on. The top four spot is not at all a given at this moment in time and hence keeping the second option of going through open for as long as they can is paramount. Yes, it will make the Premier League campaign a little tougher with the proposition of playing Thursday’s and Sunday’s but that is something Mourinho will have to figure out to live with. For now, this bunch of players needs a big win in a game like this, to bring back the confidence and spring in their step. Hopefully, Mourinho and his pupils can deliver it.