How Manchester United could look utilising a 4-2-3-1 formation in must-win match against Sevilla in the Champions League


Manchester United face one of the biggest matches this season at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening – the second leg of their round of 16 clash with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League. After a 0-0 draw almost three weeks ago in Spain, United will need a complete shutout also a convincing performance to earn a place in Friday’s quarter-final draw which could see them pitted against any of the English sides left in the competition, which at this stage is just Manchester City and Liverpool as Tottenham Hotspur exited the competition after being beaten by Juventus. Chelsea face Barcelona this week, so there could be up to four teams from England in the last eight of the competition.

During Jose Mourinho’s press conference ahead of Tuesday night’s match, it was confirmed that Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind are still not in training and Paul Pogba did not train in the open training session on Monday morning but the manager confirmed the Frenchman did undergo some training after the media left. Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were involved in the training session though, so United’s attacking power will be strengthened ahead of the must-win fixture. It should be a great atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams, especially after the last three results in which United came from behind to beat both Chelsea and Crystal Palace, then beating Liverpool on Saturday. This will be a big week for United.

Starting XI and Formation Prediction:

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been great for Manchester United this season. 15 clean sheets in the Premier League, averaging 3.3 saves per match in the competition, which is more than he has ever succeeded on average in any of his seasons at the Old Trafford club. With the Spaniard comes great confidence, which comes after a turbulent first season at the club in which Sir Alex Ferguson trusted him, not choosing to drop him after some questionable performances. That confidence has brought forward the goalkeeper we see today – arguably one of the best in world football. Looking at Victor Lindelof, who has had a similar start at United to De Gea, those who slate him should be able to see what a bit of positivity does. That is who those who are qualified to manage do just that and those that are not, watch football.

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Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Ashley Young

Manchester United’s defence has some problems this season; injury being the biggest one, the form of some players being questionable. One moment Phil Jones is the flavour of the month and Chris Smalling is the villain, then the roles are swapped for a period of time. As Nemanja Vidic has said, he does not think the pair have developed in the way they were expected to as there has not been any senior players to guide them. That could be the case, but it is on the duo also. They have both been great at times, together or partnered with other teammates, but then the mistakes they make seem to suggest they are not professionals. With Eric Bailly fit and seemingly back to his best, starting him will be needed.

As Smalling has played a lot recently, playing Victor Lindelof with Bailly, which was a pairing most supporters wanted to see in the summer, should be tested. Lindelof is a decent defender but has made mistakes at times, he’s also done a lot of good but those fickle enough to mock that will pretend he hasn’t. It is too soon to write off a player. I’m glad some United supporters don’t run the club as there would forever be a revolving door at the club with players no longer the flavour of the month being forced out for silly things. Lindelof deserved a chance to show what he can do. As a fan of the club, you should support him instead of picking on anything which gets you credit which those who think football is something they control.

Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young should be the fullbacks against Sevilla. Both are in some great form right now, the latter more than the former, especially with the way he managed to keep Mohamed Salah out of the Liverpool match this weekend. Mourinho will, however, need to think about his plans going forward as the club cannot rely on the pair heading into next season, especially not for the majority of the season, with players needing to be given sufficient chances to cement their places in the team; Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Luke Shaw for instance.

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Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay

The Manchester United midfield is starting to look a bit stronger right now. Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay have been performing in recent weeks and with the Academy graduate starting more, he has repaid the confidence Jose Mourinho had in him. With strong performances in his last five matches; against Huddersfield Town, Sevilla, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, and Liverpool, his stock has risen. McTominay recently chose Scotland as his international team and he has been selected for the friendly fixtures later this month.

Paul Pogba is a doubt for the Sevilla match after receiving an injury in training on Friday. Mourinho has suggested that he does not know if the Frenchman will play and ultimately that will be decided at some point tomorrow. Marouane Fellaini is back from injury and Michael Carrick is ready and waiting to be called upon after confirming that he will retire at the end of the season and assume a place in Mourinho’s coaching team.

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Attacking Midfield: Juan Mata, Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford

Manchester United’s attack is riddled with talent throughout. This is something that should perhaps be working much better than it is but not everything works correctly 100% of the time. Many may see this as an excuse but there are many factors as to why United’s attack have looked blisteringly on pace, then disheveled at times this season. Right now Juan Mata is a player who needs to be in the fabric of the team. He does not have the pace others have, but his forethought and the fact he reads the game well from an attacking position really glues an attack together.

Alexis Sanchez needs to continue his settling in at the club, playing as many matches as he can and perhaps soon he will fit like a glove into the squad. Anthony Martial has been training, but after sitting on the sidelines for a number of weeks, starting Marcus Rashford again will be much better, especially after he scored twice against Liverpool at the weekend – his confidence will be sky-high. United have the likes of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to bring on should they need to, which will give the squad a bit more attacking support if needed.

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Striker: Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian striker has scored 23 goals in all competitions for his club last season, with eight league matches remaining, plus at least two other matches; one in the UEFA Champions League (Sevilla) and another in the Emirates FA Cup (Brighton and Hove Albion). Lukaku scored 25 goals in the Premier League alone last season for Everton and no doubt, despite his tally so far this season and the fact he has performed in all four competition, including the step up in the Champions League, the media, pundits, and ABUs will most likely suggest Lukaku’s move to United has shown him as a flop. Granted, he could have done better in the league, but based on the fact this United side is improving, having a player score almost as many as Zlatan Ibrahimovic did last season (28) will not be seen as a negative.

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