Manchester United still have work to do in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening at Old Trafford when they welcome Club Brugge for the round of 32 second leg. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side earned a 1-1 draw in Belgium last Thursday with Anthony Martial scoring United’s only goal of the game. The important away goal sees them in the driving seat in the tie so Solskjaer will need to select a strong side to get a victory.
United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday with Bruno Fernandes, Martial and Mason Greenwood scoring the goals to earn three important points in the Premier League. United travel to Goodison Park to face Everton on Sunday in the Premier League so giving players a rest will be something that is needed, although they will not play again after facing Everton for four days.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Club Brugge in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening…
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
The Argentinian goalkeeper has been the mainstay in goal during cup matches with David De Gea playing some Europa League matches. However, after his heroics against Watford and the fact that he will be needed against Everton at the weekend, I fully expect Sergio Romero start against the Belgian side. Recently, Romero has played in four cup matches, keeping three clean sheets in those four matches. United will be in good hands with him in goal with De Gea focussing on Sinday’s match away to Everton.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
The defence may need a little tweak in order to get the best out of it. Eric Bailly should be starting ahead of Victor Lindelof as I believe he has more to offer and judging by his performance against Chelsea last week, despite the knock he received and the fact he’s only just come back from a major knee injury, he needs to be protected. This could be a good match to test him and see if he can form a partnership with Harry Maguire. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should be the two fullbacks in the back for against the Belgian side.
Midfield: Fred, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay
The midfield is stronger with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, who can play in a more advanced area, cutting United’s reliance on Paul Pogba, who is currently injured, or does not want to play for the club – which is just what it seems based on speculation. Scott McTominay returned to action against Watford at the weekend so I expect him to be ready to start, playing in a three man midfield with Fred and Nemanja Matic, which can dominate the midfield areas and shield the defence, making United much better for the remainder of the season.
Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes
The Portuguese midfielder is the most exciting player at the club right now. He has score one goal and has two assists to his name in four appearances this season, which is good, especially at this point of the season with United seeking to find a path to glory with Marcus Rashford on the sidelines, likely for the remainder of the season through injury. Fernandes can play in a more advanced role, this time, based on my prediction, behind the strikers; Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo, which could just spark something from the trio and carry United home.
Forwards: Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo
United have seldom has the availability to play two strikers in many matches this season – partly down to injury but mainly down to the fact the club sold Romelu Lukaku and loaned Alexis Sanchez without bringing in any replacements. Granted, things have not been all that bad but United have had moments of discontent. Despite Rashford’s injury, the fact they have Martial, Ighalo and Greenwood cold be enough for the remainder of the season. I imagine these two playing together up front being fed by Fernandes, which could produce moments of magic for the Old Trafford club. Solskjaer needs to try it sooner rather than later.
Substitutes: Nathan Bishop; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Daniel James; Mason Greenwood
United will need something from the bench to get the better of Brugge as I feel they will try to get themselves back into the game after playing with confidence at home last week. However, their injuries and suspensions could upset the apple cart. I expect De Gea to be rested so with Lee Grant out through injury, Nathan Bishop could be on the bench as the substitute goalkeeper. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams could be utilised. In midfield, Juan Mata and Daniel James could be options, especially if United need to provide more width with James the best player in this regard. Mason Greenwood will be the forward on the bench, who could provide width too, giving United more dimension late in the game, if needed.