Manchester United will face Atletico Madrid in their penultimate pre-season match of the summer at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Norway on Saturday afternoon before playing their final pre-season match against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Erik ten Hag has two matches to fins his best XI prior to the start of the new season.
United have played four matches so far this summer, beating Liverpool 4-0, Melbourne Victory 4-1 and Crystal Palace 3-1, drawing 2-2 with Aston Villa on a poor evening in Perth on a poor pitch which had been waterlogged the night before. It was a good leg on the tour with Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho each scoring three goals.
United will open the new season in the Premier League a week on Sunday against Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford, seeking a good start to the season and a much better finish than last with Ten Hag expected to get his team to show signs of competing to life the Premier League title in the not too distant future.
The Old Trafford club has quite a few problems to overcome but the major factor there is the owners of the club who do not have the clubs or fans best interests at heart. It seems money is the key to their happiness and keeping the club in debt as long as dividends can be paid every year s fine for them but not for us.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Malacia;
Sancho, Eriksen, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea should start against his former club on Saturday. I would imagine that he would play 45 minutes in this match with fans at Old Trafford expecting to see some of the first team in the match on Sunday. De Gea has been largely positive during the pre-season tour despite some errors which have been made.
I would expect to see Tom Heaton in the second half, unless some of the younger goalkeepers will be tested against Atletico, which could be an option based on the two matches being played over the two days. United need to start solving the defensive errors this summer ahead of the new season.
It would be expected that De Gea heads into the new season as the starting goalkeeper with Heaton expecting to challenge him, starting in some matches – perhaps in the Carabao Cup or even the Europa League. Erik ten Hag will demand the best from his players, which is what we all want to see from them.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia
United’s defence has improved a bit during pre-season, keeping a clean sheet in the first match then conceding a goal per match in the next two, conceding twice against Villa last weekend. That pitch and the weather was terrible though and United reverted to the simple mistakes they made last season.
I would expect to see both Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia start in the fullback positions, at least for the first half of this match with a change at half time seeing as United will play again on Sunday at Old Trafford. Malacia seems to be a talent both in defence and attack and needs to start finding his feet at the club. Dalot has done well in pre-season so far.
In the centre of the defence, Harry Maguire could start on the right of the defence with Lisandro Martinez making his debut for the club to see what he has to offer ahead of the Premier League season. It is an exciting time for United and the fans of the club with the three signings that have so far arrived at the club with possibly more to come.
Midfielders: Fred, James Garner
United’s midfield is not at its best yet but there has been some good performances from players during the pre-season tour. Fred has scored one goal, that stunner when he chipped Alisson against Liverpool in the opening match. He has tried to do that again in other matches too, which is a good sign so early into the summer.
Scott McTominay has played well in the tour so far but could see himself on the bench with James Garner starting in this match to get more minutes under his belt. I would like to see more of Garner this summer as he seeks to break into the United squad but could head out on loan before the transfer window closes.
The likes of Charlie Savage, Zidane Iqbal and McTominay could all be up for a chance to play in the second half of this match, should Ten Hag change his entire XI at half time with United playing on Sunday at Old Trafford. This will be a busy weekend for United ahead of their opening Premier League match a week later.
Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Christian Eriksen, Marcus Rashford
Jadon Sancho has scored three goals in pre-season so far with Rashford scoring twice and forcing an own goal against Villa in the last match. Both players have raised their game this summer and hopefully that could be taken into the new season where United will be expected to be at their best, putting last season behind them.
Christian Eriksen’s arrival could see United get more creative on the hunt for goals, which would be good to see. United need his experience and ability in the team and I think he will seek to bring out the best being one of the senior players in this squad. Bruno Fernandes could appear in the second half, seemingly needing to better his form.
Eriksen could bring out the best in Fernandes and vice versa this season and it should be good to see that. If it does not happen, there will be a winner and a loser in the number ten position. Of course, it is possible that the formation could chance with both Eriksen and Fernandes playing as attack-minded midfielders in a 4-3-3.
Forward: Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has proven himself hungry and up for the challenge so far in pre-season and he will go into the Premier League season as the main striker in the squad with Cristiano Ronaldo’s future still up in the air. United will need to strengthen in this area though as one injury would cost United a lot.
Martial has scored three goals in the opening four pre-season matches, scoring against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace. He has a great season for United during the 2019/20 season, scoring 23 goals in all competitions. If he can find that form for United, it could be a great one for him again.
United’s creativity has improved this season but it is hoped the Eriksen could improve that even more with his ball work and eye for creation. This could be great for Martial, plus the fact that Bruno Fernandes will have to up his game which will bring out the best of both him and Eriksen.
With United playing two matches in two days, it would be expected that players could play 45 minutes in each match, getting 90 minutes over the two days and 22 players in action, perhaps more if other players were to be rested. I would expect to see Tom Heaton in goal in the second half of this match if De Gea started.
In defence, the back four could change to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw, which would be a strong back four to head into the second half of the match. In the midfield two, both Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal could contest with Scott McTominay for one of the two available places.
The likes of Facundo Pellistri, Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, Tahith Chong and Alejandro Garnacho could compete for the three places behind the striker with Anthony Elanga added into the mix with the striker role, contending with those who were not picked for the three in behind the striker in the second half.