Manchester United face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening – the final group stage match of the competition. United sit in fourth place in the group knowing that a victory over Bayern and a draw between the other teams would do.
However, despite the fact Bayern were beaten 5-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the likelihood of United beating them and Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen both drawing seems unlikely but not ruled out. United could hope for a place in the UEFA Europa League though.
Personally, based on the clubs form, falling out of European competition would probably be for the best. United need to find their feet this season and get injured players back – until that happens, United will continue to struggle in any competition at this moment in time.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Maguire, Shaw, Reguilon;
Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho;
Andre Onana has not had the greatest of starts for United in any competition this season. The Cameroonian goalkeeper has conceded a total of 38 goals in the opening matches of the season, which is a major cause for concern. Granted, the player seems capable at times.
This is something that the goalkeeper and the coached will need to overcome as the errors made have been terrible and are simple to resolve, should all involved want to do so. The player will be heading to the African Cup of Nations next month, so cover will need to be sorted in time.
Altay Bayindir signed for the club in the summer and so far has not had a sniff of action in any competition. The Turkish international was a player that the manager wanted to sign, so should have all the attributes needed to succeed in his playing style. We shall see what happens here…
Defenders: Dalot, Maguire, Shaw, Reguilon
United do not seem to have a settled back four this season and multiple combinations have been utilised throughout all competitions so far. That looks set to continue for the foreseeable future too. United’s injury problems are still affecting this area now and need to be resolved.
In the fullback positions, I would personally stick with Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw but injuries will stop that, meaning Sergio Reguilon could play in the left-back position. Aaron Wan-Bissaka could come back into action but at this stage, I would keep Dalot.
With the injuries in the defensive area of the squad, it is possible that Harry Maguire could partner Shaw in the centre of the defence against Bayern, which would probably be the best solution ahead of this match with it unlikely that Maguire will be shifted to the left to play Raphael Varane.
Midfield: Mainoo, McTominay
United’s midfield is an area that the best solution has not been found, despite the players at the managers disposal this season. The rise of Kobbie Mainoo is a good thing for United this season as he looks calm and composed on the ball and does his job superbly.
Mainoo has just returned from an injury which kept him out for much of the first half of there season, so he should be managed correctly, which has been the case from Ten Hag. His partner in the centre of the midfield is a problem area as there are few solid solutions at this stage.
The player has been paired with Daniel Gore in the youth ranks and both players have done well, but playing them against a strong Bayern side could stunt their development, which would not be a good thing for either player. In which case, Scott McTominay should start with him.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho
The attacking midfield places should be there all the assists and goals are coming from this season, but in terms of accuracy, this is well of and needs to be sorted. These players are not getting the best balls ahead of them for the striker, which is stopping the goals from coming.
Antony is a player that has had a tough season. His personal problems seem to be behind him, for now at least and that could be the best thing for him. Putting in an effort and striving to assist or score should be the only thing troubling him right now.
Bruno Fernandes is free to play this game but will be suspended for the trip in Anfield on Sunday, which is a blow for United – something that may inspire the club captain to get a win on Tuesday. Alejandro Garnacho is doing what he needs to do in order to keep his place so far this season.
Rasmus Hojlund has done well this season in the UEFA Champions League, scoring five goals so far and has looked like the striker that he could become in the not too distant future. The Danish international is a great threat for his opposition but he has been let down by teammates.
In order to get the best from the striker, the players behind him need to strive to play the passes into the player, not be selfish and try to score goals themselves, even if they know the chances they have are few and far between. A striker needs good passes played into them.
There are few options for other players to be leading the line for United at this time. Anthony Martial does not seem to get a sweat on and won’t sprint for the ball and Marcus Rashford is out of form and does not work well when leading the line for this United side.
Substitutes: Bayindir; Varane, Wan-Bissaka, Evans; Amrabat, van de Beek, Gore, Hannibal; Martial, Rashford, Pellistri, Hugill
United will be able to name around 12 players on the bench for the visit of Bayern in the Champions League, using five of them throughout the match. Altay Bayindir will once against be the goalkeeper on the bench in this fixture and he could be joined by another, if injuries cause it.
In the defence, United could have Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jonny Evans involved on the bench against Bayern – which are not the greatest options to have at this time. In the midfield, Sofyan Amrabat, Donny van de Beek, Daniel Gore and Hannibal could be available.
In the attacking positions, which are not all that desirable at this stage of the season, United could have Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Facundo Pellistri and Joe Hugill available. Amad Diallo has recently returned to training after overcoming his injury, but might not be ready just yet.
Written by John Walker