How Manchester United could look in a 4-2-2-2 formation against Barcelona; Rashford and Lukaku supported by Martial and Lingard

Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening, entertaining reigning La Liga champions and league leaders Barcelona. It will be a tough match for United, knowing that Lionel Messi will once again be tormenting the back four, which could see United capitulate this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find the best team to face the Catalan club after losing three of their last six matches in all competitions. United has been in poor form for the last four matches after beating Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital. That will be a worry for Solskjaer ahead of this battle, although it is only the first leg.

The players will need to be on their best behaviour also with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Antonia Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera all one card away from a one-match suspension. Valencia won’t play a part in the game so it is one less player to worry about. Barcelona has Nelson Semedo a booking away from a suspension.

United and Barcelona have played 11 competitive matches in the history of both clubs, dating back to the first match which was played on the 7 March 1984, a 2-0 defeat in the UEFA European Cup Winner’s Cup, however, a 3-0 home win followed a fortnight later. United has won three matches, drawn four times and lost four times. This will be a big match for United.

Embed from Getty Images

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been in questionable form this season and rumours suggest he wants to leave the club this summer. However, until anyone of note says anything, they are just rumours. Against Barcelona, De Gea should be looking to regain his form and be that wall that could stop Lionel Messi et al from scoring at the Theatre of Dreams.

Embed from Getty Images

Defence: Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

United has not kept a clean sheet since that 0-0 draw against Liverpool back in February. Ashley Young and Luke Shaw will play in the fullback positions, however, both are a booking away from a suspension. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof should be trusted in the centre of defence as recently, they have played well together.

Embed from Getty Images

Midfield Two: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield needs changing up a little bit. For weeks, Solskjaer has been playing a predominant midfield three. There were suggestions that Paul Pogba could play in a similar role to how he has played for France but that cannot be alongside Nemanja Matic as he is pretty slow and does not give Pogba the freedom to break forward. Ander Herrera could have done that but now Scott McTominay might have to, due to injury.

Embed from Getty Images

Wingers: Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial

This is a formation untested by United this season but in effect, it is a 4-4-2 formation with a slight difference. With Rashford and Lukaku likely to lead the line, it is important that they are supported by quick players who are able to play to the best of their abilities. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are the two that should be chosen.

Embed from Getty Images

Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku

I am working on the basis that both Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are fit to face Barcelona. There are no known problems with the Belgian’s fitness, however, Rashford missed the defeat to Wolves last week. Both being fit and ready to go could give United the best possible start, especially if they are supported by Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.

Embed from Getty Images

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred

Having strength on the bench is important as Solskjaer will need to utilise his substitutes more than ever at this stage of the season. There are no forward on my predicted bench but plenty of talent to fill in where needed. We might even see the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes or Mason Greenwood, which would be great for any of the trio.

Preview: Memories of 1984 and 1991 should inspire Manchester United ahead of Barcelona battle

Manchester United -v- Barcelona

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 10 April 2019; KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening, entertaining reigning La Liga champions and league leaders Barcelona. It will be a tough match for United, knowing that Lionel Messi will once again be tormenting the back four, which could see United capitulate this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find the best team to face the Catalan club after losing three of their last six matches in all competitions. United has been in poor form for the last four matches after beating Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital. That will be a worry for Solskjaer ahead of this battle, although it is only the first leg.

The players will need to be on their best behaviour also with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Antonia Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera all one card away from a one-match suspension. Valencia won’t play a part in the game so it is one less player to worry about. Barcelona has Nelson Semedo a booking away from a suspension.

Embed from Getty Images

Form: Barcelona a team in form on the way to the Theatre of Dreams; United could face an uphill challenge

Manchester United: LWLLWW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Watford 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Arsenal 2-0 L, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 W, Southampton 3-2 W

United will face the biggest task of the season in their worst form under Solskjaer this season. Three wins and three losses in the last six matches. United’s season could well be over inside the next fortnight, especially if they do not take advantage of Arsenal’s defeat to Everton in the Premier League this weekend.

Barcelona: WDWWWW

Atletico Madrid 2-0 W, Villarreal 4-4 D, Espanyol 2-0 W, Real Betis 4-1 W, Lyon 5-1 W, Rayo Vallecano 3-1 W

Barcelona head to Old Trafford in good form, drawing once in the last six matches, winning the other five fixtures. The Catalan side has scored 20 goals, conceding seven times and keeping two clean sheets. Barcelona will be well up for this visit to the Theatre of Dreams with United seemingly the side in worse form this season, however unpredictable.

Top Scorers: Lionel Messi is not from this planet, nearly outscoring Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford on his own

Manchester United: 15 – Romelu Lukaku, 14 – Paul Pogba, 13 – Marcus Rashford, 12 – Anthony Martial, 5 – Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, 3 – Ander Herrera, 2 – Marouane Fellaini, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, 1 – Fred, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling

Barcelona: 41 – Lionel Messi, 20 – Luis Suárez, 11 – Ousmane Dembélé, 7 – Philippe Coutinho, 6 – Gerard Piqué, 4 – Ivan Rakitic, 2 – Jordi Alba, Malcom, Arturo Vidal, 1 – Carles Aleñá, Nélson Semedo, Munir El Haddadi, Rafinha

Embed from Getty Images

Team News: Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly doubts for Barcelona clash; Ousmane Dembele could recover in time

United currently has six players on the sidelines through injury. Of the six, Antonio Valencia (knee), Matteo Darmian (knock), and Alexis Sanchez (MCL) are out of this match. Marcus Rashford (ankle), Eric Bailly (concussion), and Ander Herrera (knock) are all doubts but could play a part in this match.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde currently has three players on the sidelines through injury with Rafinha (cruciate ligament), and Thomas Vermaelen (thigh) definitely out of action for the visit to Old Trafford. However, French forward Ousmane Dembele (muscle tear) may well recover in time to play a part in this fixture.

Predicted Starting XI: 4-2-2-2 formation – Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku to lead the line with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial supporting?

Solskjaer could have up to six players on the sidelines against Barcelona with three players likely to be fit in time to be involved in the match. The biggest worries are Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera. United will need to ensure they are ready for this test, maybe keeping a clean sheet at the Theatre of Dreams, heading to the Camp Nou with some positivity.

Match Prediction: United might just have a surprise in the bag against Barcelona but the away leg could well be the tougher match

United and Barcelona have played 11 competitive matches in the history of both clubs, dating back to the first match which was played on the 7 March 1984, a 2-0 defeat in the UEFA European Cup Winner’s Cup, however, a 3-0 home win followed a fortnight later. United has won three matches, drawn four times and lost four times. This will be a big match for United.

Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona

Manchester United ‘on the verge’ of signing Nico Gonzalez with Nicky Butt continuing Academy overhaul

Manchester United are reportedly ‘on the verge’ of signing Barcelona youth player Nico Gonzalez this summer. The 16-year-old central midfielder is the son of Fran Gonzalez, a former Deportivo La Coruna player, and current Manchester City coach. Gonzalez spent last season as the captain of the Cadet A team and was set to be promoted to the Juvenil A team ahead of the new season. Spanish newspaper, Diario Sport, last week reported that the landscape on Gonzalez’s future had changed.

The main reason behind the change is down to David Harrison, a former City coach who now works for United. Harrison, Gonzalez and his father all share a good relationship, which could well be down to the fact United have emerged as the contenders for the players signature this summer. United’s Academy head, Nicky Butt has been trying to sign talented players from Europe in order to keep United’s Academy on track for success, which last season saw the U18s win the U18 Premier League North title, falling to Chelsea for the overall title.

It is expected that many of the talented U18 players from last season will be promoted to the U23s this summer, with that age group seeking to overcome relegation to the second division if the Premier League 2. This can be suggested by the fact that United have named 11 first-year scholars who will be drafted into the U18s this summer ready for the new season. One of the players within this intake is Harvey Neville, the son of former United player Phil Neville.

Gonzalez has been linked with City heavily in 2016 after Pep Guardiola became the manager for the club. No move materialised for the player. At Barcelona right now, Gonzalez has been left out of the Juvenil A and B squads whilst his future hangs in the balance. Gonzalez has described as a central defensive midfielder and is comfortable on the ball. This would be expected of a player coming through the La Masia Academy at Barcelona.

If Gonzalez does opt to move to United, he will be the fifth youth player to snub a future at La Masia with Pablo Moreno, Robert Navarro, Adrià Bernabé, and Joel López all leaving before him. When City were interested in him two years ago, despite being 14 at the time, with players in Europe only allowed to head overseas once they turn 16, the fact his move would have been considered as family reasons, not footballing reasons would have seen the move ratified, being that his father is a coach at City.

United’s first team have seemingly stuttered to a halt over the past week in terms of new acquisitions this summer, despite signing Diogo Dalot, Fred, and Lee Grant so far this summer. However, for Butt and the Academy, it seems that United are pressing on ready for the new season, also scouting Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland for the second time in a week this weekend. The U18s, despite losing some talented player as they look to test themselves in the U23s this season, could still be a team to entertain this season with plenty of options hanging in the balance right now.

Samuel Umtiti confirms Manchester United interest but seems happy to remain at Barcelona this summer

Manchester United target Samuel Umtiti has confirmed the interest shown by the Old Trafford club ahead of the summer transfer window, stating that he is happy at Barcelona. The French defender has a £52 million buyout clause in his current contract and over the past few weeks, it has led to speculation suggesting the Catalan club were sweating as to whether the player would remain at Barcelona this summer.

The 24-year-old was linked to the Old Trafford club with the reports that manager Jose Mourinho was seeking a central defender to partner Eric Bailly, which would add some steel to his back line ahead of the new season. Umtiti is not the only player to be linked to the club though. After returning from the international break with France, Umtiti has told Canal FC, which was reported by The Sun, about the interest, saying:

“It’s not only Manchester United. Other clubs want me as well, but my sole focus is on Barcelona.

“It was my dream to play at Barca. And I achieved it when I was just 22. I’m very happy here, whenever I play and whenever I train. Negotiations for a contract renewal have not started yet.

Manchester United closing in on Barcelona defender ahead of summer transfer window

Manchester United are reportedly closing in on Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti ahead of the biggest transfer window for manager Jose Mourinho. Umtiti has been linked to United in the media for a number of months now, which seems to have been click bait. Recent reports from Catalan daily, Sport seem to add a little more to the rumours.

Umtiti has a buyout clause with is reportedly £52 million, which for an international seems to be a good fee, especially in the fact that Virgin van Dijk cost Liverpool £75 million during the January transfer window. Umtiti is not on the same level as Van Dijk yet though – but the fee is still a decent price for a player of his calibre.

It is reported that Barcelona see Umtiti as a crucial player to rejuvenate their starting XI heading into the future but the Catalan club is refusing to meet the player’s demands which would make his the club’s second-highest paid player, just behind Lionel Messi.

The 24-year-old wants to see himself earn the parity that the likes of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Andres Iniesta have at the club but the Barcelona board refuse to accept it at this time. It is reported that United are willing to pay the £52 million buyout clause, something the Old Trafford club can afford to do, also pay him in the region of £175,000 per week, which is something they can afford too.

It is stated that Barcelona feel that they may be fighting a losing battle with Umtiti, also growing unhappy with the stance of his agent and brother, Yannick Umtiti. Umtiti’s current contract will expire in the summer of 2021 and Barcelona start negotiations two-years before the expiry, meaning they have started this with three years remaining, suggesting they don’t want to lose the player.

The £52 million buyout clause is considered as ‘reasonable’ in the current market and United, amongst other clubs, would find it easy to part with such a substantial fee for the French international, who is playing to the best of his abilities and development at this current time.

United will be seeking new defensive players ahead of the transfer window this summer with the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Daley Blind tipped for departure. Smalling and Jones have both been linked to Everton recently, with Blind wanting to leave in January but Jose Mourinho refused to weaken the defence for the remainder of the season, which would have been a gamble.

It is possible that Mourinho could adopt a 3-5-2 variation formation next season, using three central defensive players at the back, two wing-backs, his midfield and attacking players, which has been used by Chelsea for the last two seasons, and other clubs. United have played in similar formations this season, not utilising it since Jones, Blind and Marcos Rojo have been on the sidelines.

Rojo signed a new contract weeks ago and with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, another talented central defender could give Mourinho a strong defence, which may see him use formations that attack more, worrying about the strength at the back with players who just do not seem able to play to their strengths.

Umtiti could be that fourth strong central defender, and whether it sees the likes of Smalling, Jones, and Blind leave in the summer, or just one or two of them, it will still mean that United’s defence will be much stronger and perhaps United’s attacking will benefit a little bit more. A strong defence added to a strong attack will leave United in a better position to challenge for titles.

Barcelona on the chase for Luke Shaw this summer, according to reports

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw is a transfer target for Barcelona this summer according to The Mirror. The 22-year-old is a player with potential but nearly four years after signing for the Old Trafford club from Southampton, that is all he really is, a player with potential.

During his time at United, Shaw has been criticised by both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, with criticism coming from former Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, currently the manager of Tottenham Hotspur and former England and not Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson. This alone suggests that the player’s inability to kick on is not Mourinho’s problem.

Shaw made his return from that double leg break under the guidance of Mourinho and seemed to have worked his way into the Portuguese manager’s plans but after some not so great performances, which I am sure is not the only reason the player has been criticised, it seems his days at Old Trafford are numbered.

It was stated by Mourinho that Shaw could earn himself a new contract at the Theatre of Dreams, but with 12 months remaining at the end of the season, it would seem more likely that Shaw would leave the club this summer, Barcelona becoming a potential club to hold an interest in the 22-year-old.

It is suggested that the Catalan club are seeking to strengthen the left-back position with Lucas Digne so far failing to dislodge first-choice Jordi Alba in that position and perhaps Barcelona feel Shaw could do just that – keeping the position as strong as their rivals ahead of the new season in which Barcelona could be the defending La Liga champions.

Barcelona reportedly has other options, their first choice being Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba. but he is also wanted by Real Madrid and the potential transfer could become costly – money which Barcelona may not have at this moment in time – even after selling Neymar for nearly £200 million nearly a year ago.

It is being reported by The Sun that United would seek to receive around £28 million for Shaw this summer, whether that is achievable or not, it would seek that Ed Woodward and the club are keen to ensure they do not sell players for less than they feel they are worth, which has been the case at the club for the last decade or more.

United seem to have to pay over the odds to sign a player from another club, so why should United not mark up the cost of players, to their valuations, and demand that the figure is met, or close to that amount. United cannot continue to let other clubs set the prices of players – whether they are overpriced or not. The market is inflated when United buy, so why not when they sell too?

Shaw may have a little time to try and establish himself at United, whether it changes anything or not. He has stayed at the club’s AON Training Complex during the international break to put some more time into his training, which may be to hit back at the criticism, or even prove himself to his teammates and manager.

Whether that changes anything remains to be seen. Shaw could stay at United to run his contract down over the next year and leave on a free when he’s 23, or he could leave this summer. Whether he heads to Barcelona or not remains to be seen also. He may choose to stay in England where he can emerge as that player he was tipped to be or continue to prove his critics right, who knows.

Report: Resurgent Barcelona end Manchester United’s winning spree in the USA

Manchester United were beaten in Landover, Maryland but a resurgent Barcelona side who scored a solo goal through Neymar, his third of the Catalan clubs pre-season tour this summer. United started a strong lineup and played well throughout, but just could not create anything. Defensively, United did well at times, but creatively, things need to change. This side, against one of the best in the world, looked short of player to light the pitch up. Romelu Lukaku played well, Paul Pogba seemed determined and Marcus Rashford tried to get something going, with United falling short of the mark. It’s only pre-season, fitness is the main thing, not winning.

Jose Mourinho started a strong side against Barcelona with David De Gea in goal, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind in defence. Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba in midfield, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all playing behind Romelu Lukaku. United kicked the game off with Barcelona gaining possession of the ball and going on the attack before United won back possession and made the clearance. United then went on the attack through Rashford, crossing into Lukaku, who failed to threaten the Dutch goalkeeper. Neymar then attacked for Barcelona, forcing a save out of De Gea.

In side the sixth minute Lionel Messi, put forward by Neymar could have scored but De Gea made the save, not grasping the ball, but getting to it. A minute or so later Barcelona had another chance with De Gea saving again giving the Catalan team a corner. De Gea made a save from the corner too, thwarting the Catalans so far at the start of the match. In the eleventh minute of the match after some good play by Lukaku, Blind got forward hoping to set the Belgian striker up for a goal but the ball was intercepted. United were giving as much as they had received so far in this match, which is a good sign.

Messi had a shot on goal with some quick play in the twelfth minute but the Argentinian’s shot was wide of the target, luckily for United. Last season Messi scored 54 goals in 52 matches, which is some good for. A minute later Lukaku had a long-range shot on goal, which was straight down the throat of Jasper Cillessen, a good attempt from United’s new striker. Paul Pogba had a shot on goal from long-range also with Cillessen stretching to make the save. United are not afraid of this Barcelona side, which is a very good sign. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot also, which was wide of the target.

United won a corner in the 17th minute of the match after Lingard took a shot which was deflected behind. United threatened from the corner with Lingard advancing to the left of the goal with Cillessen making the safe to thwart the Red Devils. Barcelona then went on the attack with United attempting to close them down, stopping the attack by giving away a throw-in. United got forward on the attack, running 60 yards with the ball but Sergio Busquets made the challenge, giving away a corner. Rashford took the corner, but it was cleared into United’s half, with them then pushing forward but Smalling was flagged for offside.

Messi won a free-kick for Barcelona in the 22nd minute of the match after it appeared that he was bundled over, seemingly making the best of the challenge to put his team in contention to threaten again. Messi took the free-kick and hit it straight into United’s wall. Lingard on the advance was then hacked down by Ivan Rakitic unnecessarily with United winning a free-kick. Barcelona then regained possession and the end-to-end play resumed after Luis Suarez took a dive. Lukaku broke forward again, not getting anything for his team. Pogba had another shot on goal, just seeing his effort go wide again.

Just before the half hour stage of the match, Barcelona were having more attacking play threatening United with De Gea making a few saves and United getting the better of the attacks. From the corner, Barcelona were maintaining their shot passes to create space in United’s attacking third keeping United on their toes. Barcelona seemed rusty as they were just not threatening enough, which will suit United well as a win inside 90 minutes will see the club clinch the International Champions Cup, which they won in 2014 in Louis van Gaal’s first pre-season with the club. Barcelona took the lead in the 31st minute through Neymar, Valencia lost his balance in the box.

Barcelona seemed to toy with United after their opening goal, which was not the first time United had fallen behind during pre-season, Real Salt Lake took the lead in the second match on this tour. Barcelona are a much better side though. United have been giving as much as they got, at times, which as I said was a good sign. Barcelona won another free-kick in the 40th minute of the patch after Messi was fouled by Pogba. The Argentinian took the free-kick, which sailed over the crossbar. United got a credible attack going, sitting in the box, but the attack was closed down. Blind pulled Messi back, could have been booked, but wasn’t.

Suarez got forward in the 42nd minute, threatening to score Barcelona’s second goal, but De Gea got down to thwart the Uruguayan from finding a second goal for his club just before the end of the first half. United broke forward with two minutes of the half to play with Lukaku waiting in the box, making space and the ball was crossed in, missing the Belgian and Lingard trying to chase the ball which went out of play. Another attack for United, another one which saw them fail to really threaten Barcelona. Pogba was determined to get something from this game. United had another chance with Blind crossing, just a bit too soon for Lukaku. 1-0 Barca.

At the start of the second half Barcelona made ten changes with United making a five with Sergio Romero replacing De Gea, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly replacing Smalling and Lindelof in the centre of defence, Matteo Darmian replacing Blind at left-back and Marouane Fellaini replacing Carrick. United had a lot to do in order to get back into the game as despite all the changes and the fact the game had fizzled out a little, the understudies (with some experience) for Barcelona in this match were just as threatening, just not as polished. Valencia tried to start something for United, but the attacking play was closed down quickly by Barca.

Around the hour mark things were not going too well for United with Lingard holding his groin unable to continue, which was a shame after a bright pre-season. Anthony Martial replaced Lingard and Mourinho made another change with Andreas Pereira replacing Mkhitaryan. United were struggling to put an attack together with Barcelona seeming much fresher and ready to thwart chances created by their opposition. United need two goals to win the International Champions Cup, which seems a long way from possibility right now. Martial had a chance in the 65th minute, seeing his effort off target.

Barcelona had a chance at the other end with Romeo making the save to thwart the Catalan side. Bailly seemed to be caught flat footed at a moment whereby he could have possible done more to regain possession of challenge the attacking player. In the 70th minute Pereira had a chance to score, but it cleared the crossbar, unfortunately for United, who really need to get back into the match. United had an opportunity to score again, creating space in Barca’s defence but the shot was played straight into the goalkeeper, who was having a good game. United had another shot minutes later, this time from Pogba, still not threatening enough to get into the match.

Barcelona won a corner, but Romero caught the ball inside his area sending United on the attack. United had started to do more to get something going, but Barca were seemingly looking to keep control of the match, keeping a clean sheet, which seemed possible at this moment in time. There was 15 minutes remaining for United to get back into the match. Andres Iniesta could have caused more damage, his attempt did not cause problems for United. Martial had some good play on the left flank, taking his defender on, but his tough was heavy and the ball went out of play. The attendance inside the FedEx Field was 80,162, much better the Sunday’s match.

Marouane Fellaini was booked in the 83rd minute fo the match for a foul, perhaps being lucky to still be on the pitch after elbowing his opposition, only coming on at the start of the second half. Axel Tuanzebe replaced Valencia in the 84th minute of the match with the 19-year-old getting a few mont minutes of pre-season action, albeit playing at right-back. In the 90th minute Rashford and Lucas Digne went down on the right flank with the United striker seemingly in pain, but continuing. Barcelona got the free-kick, not doing anything of note but United still needed a goal to level the score. Rashford was flagged offside on the attack Four minutes added on.

In the first minute of added time, Barcelona seemed to handle the ball in the area, close to the referee but nothing was given. On the replay, it was accidental. United needed to go for broke, looking for that goal which would take the match to penalties, like the one against Real Madrid on Sunday. It was a good work out for the players, which is what pre-season is about, not winning pointless silverware, but it would have been nice. Bailly won a free-kick for United with just over a minute to play, it being hacked away back into United’s half. Tuanzebe started something with Martial not shooting and being dispossessed. Rashford had a chance too, off target.

United lost the match 1-0 which will end their pre-season tour of the United States of America. They still have two pre-season matches against Valerenga in Oslo and Sampdoria in Dublin, also the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia, so plenty of time to get the fitness levels to where they need to be, perhaps even a new face or two before the three matches have been played.

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 46′); Valencia (Tuanzebe 84′), Smalling (Bailly 46′), Lindelof (Jones 46′), Blind (Darmian 46′); Carrick (Fellaini 46′), Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Mkhitaryan (A. Pereira 63′), Rashford; Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Mitchell; McTominay

Starting XI: Lukaku, Lingard, Rashford and Mkhitaryan lead the line against Barcelona

Manchester United face Barcelona in their third and final match of the International Champions Cup and their fifth and final match of the United States of America leg of their pre-season tour. On Sunday United will face Valerenga in Oslo, Norway before playing Sampdoria in Dublin, Ireland in a week’s time. The pre-season is over with just the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia between them and the start of the Premier League season, in which United will entertain West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday 13th August 2017. United have strengthened this season with Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof, with one or two more player’s still wanted. It will be four wins in four for United, three in 90 minutes, one on penalties.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Blind;

Carrick, Pogba;

Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford;



J. Pereira, Romero; Bailly, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Mitchell, Tuanzebe; Fellaini, McTominay, A. Pereira; Martial

United will now head back to Europe facing Valerenga in Oslo, Sampdoria in Dublin and Real Madrid again in Macedonia, this time contesting the UEFA Super Cup. United should be ready for their Premier League opener on Sunday 13th August 2017, entertaining West Ham United at Old Trafford, after this pre-season, which is much better than last, which saw United play fewer matches, one of which was cancelled.

Preview: Manchester United to raise their game against Barcelona?

Barcelona -v- Manchester United

FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, United States of America

Wednesday 26th July 2017; KO 19:30 local time – Thursday 27th July 2017; KO 00:30 in the United Kingdom

Live on MUTV in the United Kingdom

Manchester United play their last match in the International Champions Cup and the last of the United States of America leg of their pre-season tour on Wednesday evening in Landover, Maryland, the early hours of Thursday morning in the United Kingdom. United have played four matches, winning four matches, one of those after a penalty shootout. United have beaten LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City and Real Madrid. Next up is another La Liga side, Barcelona. This will be Barcelona’s second pre-season match of the summer beating Juventus 2-1 last week. Barcelona will play two more matches; the El Classico against Real Madrid in Miami and a friendly against Chapecoense, raising money after the tragic plane crash which lost the majority of the clubs players and officials in November 2016.

United have scored ten goals on their pre-season tour so far, winning three matches in 90 minutes, one after a penalty shootout in which United scored twice from the spot. Marcus Rashford has three goals to his name this summer, both Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have two, with Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini, and Anthony Martial all having one goal a piece. United manager Jose Mourinho has used the majority of his 28-man squad this summer with three players who are yet to recover from injuries sustained last season; Luka Shaw, Ashley Young, and Marcos Rojo – who should be back in action in exactly that order. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Mourinho gave an update on the trio’s recovery, saying:

“It’s good to have them here, it’s been good for them to be with us and recover with the group. They have no chance for the beginning of the Premier League season. Luke Shaw is the first one to recover, Marcos Rojo will be last and Ashley Young will be in between. Luke is September, Young is October and Rojo is December, or maybe January. The group is really strong and it’s good to be together. It’s important for them to be with us and not be in Manchester working at home.”

United have two more pre-season matches of the summer remaining after this match with United travelling to Oslo, Norway to face Valerenga on Sunday, then to Dublin, Ireland to face Sampdoria on Wednesday 2nd August which ends their friendly run of the summer. United will face one match before their

Have Manchester United have beaten Barcelona on pre-season before.

Manchester United and Barcelona have met many times in the history of both clubs. In the last decade, the two clubs have been involved in two UEFA Champions League finals a year apart with the Catalan club marching to victory on both occasions. United did face Barcelona in their pre-season tour of the United States of America back in 2014, beating the Catalan club at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It was nothing to brag about though as with it being a FIFA World Cup year, the club were missing Lionel Messi and many of the stars of the team back then. This time though, Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, unless is protracted transfer to Paris Saint-Germain actually happens, will all play meaning it will be game on for United.

Team News: Juan Mata and Ander Herrera are both able to train, however, both will miss the Barcelona match.

Jose Mourinho should have 23 players fit for this match with Luka Shaw, Ashley Young, and Marcos Rojo already on the sidelines through injury at the start of the tour and Juan Mata, who limped off in the 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake, the second pre-season match of the summer and Ander Herrera limping off in the penalty victory over Real Madrid on Sunday. Neither of the Spanish players are injured for the long-term but both will miss the Barcelona match and possibly return to action on Saturday before travelling to Norway to face Valerenga on Sunday. Jose Mourinho confirmed this by saying:

“They cannot play tomorrow [against Barcelona] but I think they will recover in time to be integrated with the team when we go back to work next Saturday. They will probably play on Sunday [against Valerenga].”

Predicted Starting XI: Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku to start for Manchester United against Barcelona?

Match Prediction:

Barcelona 2-2 Manchester United

Barcelona looking to raid Manchester United, player not so keen…

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera is a target for Barcelona this summer if the Catalan club fails to lure Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, according to reports. For weeks now, the speculation has been rife linking the Italian midfielder with the La Liga runner’ up with suggestions of an €80 million transfer fee, which I am sure Barcelona would pay for the 24-year-old. Verratti seems keen for a new challenge away from Paris with the Catalan club prestigious enough and needing reinforcements in the midfield to content with the likes of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid next season in a bid to regain the La Liga title which was taken by Real Madrid at the end of the season, on their way to retaining the UEFA Champions League trophy.

Spanish publication SPORT carried a picture of Herrera on the front page on Thursday using the headline “Plan B a Verratti”, which suggested Herrera would be the secondary target should the Catalan club fail to lure the Italian to the club this summer, which is a possibility. Herrera’s Old Trafford contract will run out in a year’s time, but on signing for United three years ago, Herrera had a clause inserted for a further year which could be added onto his current contract. Of course, United should be looking to secure the player to a new long-term contract, which is probably in the works with the player currently on holiday and due to return to the AON Training Complex next week before the club departs on their pre-season tour in the United States of America.

United would, of course, be unlikely to let Herrera leave the Theatre of Dreams without a fight, especially after his escapades in midfield last season, where he did enough to warrant a new contract at the club. The fact he marked Eden Hazard out of the 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford was enough to see what the former Athletic Bilbao midfielder was capable of. The Spanish newspaper have also linked Barcelona to Leicester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who is seemingly a target for Arsenal once again this summer as they look to assemble a squad capable of continuing their decline ahead of the new season, which seems to be the way the club are heading. Herrera once spoke about his former managers, including Ernesto Valverde, saying:

“I’ve had some wonderful managers: Marcelino, who gave me my debut; Gay, Aguirre, Bielsa, Valverde, who made the biggest impression on me due to the way he was in the dressing room and because he’s a fantastic guy. Not just in terms of football, but for his way of being, the way he was in the dressing room, working with those that did and didn’t play. He is a crack.”

Whilst it is great to see clubs like Barcelona interested in Manchester United players, it may only be a dream that the Catalans think they can lure Herrera to the Nou Camp as by all accounts, he is not interested in leaving the Old Trafford club yet, being fully concentrated on the task at hand – helping to return the club to the helm of English and European football, which could well continue next season is manager Jose Mourinho has anything to do with it, which he will, of course. Whilst Herrera has respect for his former manager, Valverde, a reunion does not seem to be on the cards. Herrera seems to have lots of unfinished business at the Old Trafford club and in the Premier League, also looking to be part of the Spain squad for next summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

copyright: JW