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Ratings: Greenwood opened the scoring for United in Young Boys draw; Heaton, Mengi, Shoretire, Iqbal and Savage made Champions League debuts

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. Mason Greenwood, assisted by Luke Shaw opened the scoring in the ninth minute with Jesse Lingard messing up to stop United from scoring a second. In the 42nd minute of the match, Fabian Rieder equalised for Young Boys in their bid to continue in European competition this season. Rangnick used all five substitutes, giving Tom Heaton, Teden Mengi, Shola Shoretire, Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage their debuts in the competition. It was good to see the youth trusted again.

This United side started the match in fine fettle, seeking to get the better of their Swiss opposition from the very start of the match. Rangnick made 11 changes for this match, choosing to rest the majority of his first team ahead of Saturday’s trip to Norwich City. United eventually took the lead in the ninth minute with Mason Greenwood finding the back of the net with Luke Shaw playing the assist to the forward. It was a great finish for the 20-year-old who had scored his fifth goal of the season with Shaw getting his third assist. United looked up for the challenge despite the number of players rested for this match.

United should have made it 2-0 in the first half but Jesse Lingard did not pay attention to the passing in the box, missing a chance to score for United and put them ahead comfortably. But many will say that Lingard is still a talent and will develop into a first team player at some point. The lad can’t seem to concentrate on the basics of football and when the pressure is on, he will chase nothing but shadows. He has proved that in this match. Still, he should be able to get back into the swing of things after playing in this match as he can do much better than this. United could regret not taking that chance.

In the 42nd minute of the match Young Boys equalised with a superb finish with Fabian Rieder beating Dean Henderson, which was a shame for United. It would give the Swiss side a chance to remain in European competition, provided they can win this match and the postponed match between Atalanta and Villarreal goes ahead with a favourable result for the Swiss side, or they will have played their last match in European competition this season. United seemed to respond well to conceding the goal but the first half ended with the two sides level and all still to play for, although it did not matter for United as they were already through.

There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. United played some good football as they tried to get back into the lead again but the Swiss side did what they needed to stop any further goals being conceded. In the 61st minute of the match, Rangnick made his first substitution with Teden Mengi replacing Shaw, who was only going to be playing an hour this evening after his return from a head injury. United, despite being relatively inexperienced at this level, were still playing a good game and the Young Boys should really have capitalised, so perhaps it shows the level of the club and the players?

In the 68th minute of the match, Rangnick made a double substitution with Tom Heaton making his United and Champions League debut with Henderson coming off and Shola Shoretire, becoming the youngest United player to feature in a European competition, replacing Amad Diallo. There was a youthly look to this United side, with more youth players on the bench and two more substitutions remaining. United still held their own against their Swiss opposition with the crown in find fettle singing about the club to spur them on in their pursuit to win the match. Shoretire became the first player to be booked, picking up a yellow card in the 80th minute.

United kicked on and seemed happy with the draw, not that it matters as United had already won the group before this match. In the 89th minute, Rangnick made his final two substitutions with Zidane Iqbal replacing Lingard and Charlie Savage replacing Juan Mata. What a proud moment for all the players making their debuts in this match, even 35 year-old Heaton will be proud. United fought on into the five minutes of added time, even though that was in effect spoiled by three pitch invaders. The players on the pitch should be congratulated for their participation in this match, which allowed Rangnick to evaluate his players.

United will now await Monday’s round of 16 draw for the Champions League, which will see how they fair in the next stage of the competition. At least the club will not be participating in the UEFA Europa League next season, as that really would make the remainder of the season a little bit tougher. United will face Norwich City at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Saturday evening, after three home matches in a row. United will be seeking another three points in the league against the team at the bottom of the table. Following that match, United travel to Brentford on Tuesday 14 December with fixtures hotting up through the Festive period.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Unable to keep a clean sheet on his second appearance for United this season. It was a tough ball to get a hold of though and a great finish for the Rieder. He was replaced by Heaton in the 68th minute of the match. It was a positive performance for him and Rangnick would have been impressed.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

This was not a great performance for the right-back, but he has been out for two matches. Perhaps it will get better. Seemed to have injured his hand again following a collision with an advertising hoarding.

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3 Eric Bailly

Seemed to be in good form in this match, not that it matters as one day he can be good, the next a liability. Put in some tackles and clearances and seemed committed to the cause. Should play more often and might this month.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Played as a centre-back in this match and seemed to be ahead of the game in the first half but tired in the second showing sloppier play.

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23 Luke Shaw

Good to see him make his return from a head injury. Got stuck in and played the assist for Greenwood's opener in the ninth minute of the match. Showed glimpses of the form he can bring. Replaced by Mengi in the 61st minute of the match.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Missed a great opportunity to see United 2-0 up in the first half. Seemed to struggle at times and was largely anonymous in the second half. His time at United should be over based on these performances. Replaced by Iqbal in the 89th minute. Should have been replaced much sooner.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Played a poor pass with resulted in Young Boys equaliser. Perhaps should not have played in the holding midfield position but it was a dead rubber match to try out new things and test players for other positions. Attacking roles seem better for the Dutchman.

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16 Amad Diallo

Seemed to be all over the pitch at times, making his first start for United this season. Had some involvement in good areas too, which was great to see. He was replaced by Shoretire in the 68th minute of the match.

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8 Juan Mata

Made his second appearance of the season. Showed good thinking at times but seemed to lack the pace of the game. Should have helped United go 2-0 up. Great player but his time seems to have passed.

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36 Anthony Elanga

Seemed to be out of the match in the first half but arrived in the second, playing a good pass to Greenwood, which did not result in another goal. Could have perhaps scored on a one-on-one but didn't.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Scored United's only goal of the game with a superb finish. Perhaps has his name in content to start against Norwich on Sunday. Should hold his head high.

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Substitutes

43 Teden Mengi

Replaced Shaw 61'. Did well and recovered from a slip to block the ball. He is going to be a decent defender in time.

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47 Shola Shoretire

Replaced Amad 68'. Did not make an impact which was needed form him. Became the only player booked in the match.

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22 Tom Heaton

Replaced Henderson 68'. Made his United debut at 35 despite starting in the academy. Was not really tested.

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72 Charlie Savage

Replaced Mata 89'. Not enough time to make an impact, like Iqbal had just a minute plus added time. It was a good start for him.

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73 Zidane Iqbal

Replaced Lingard 89'. Came on late in the game with just a minute and added time to play. Did not embarrass himself. It will give him a taste of the first team.

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Goals: Mason Greenwood 9′; Fabian Rieder 42′

Assists: Luke Shaw 9′

Manchester United: Henderson (Heaton 68′); Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Matic, Shaw (Mengi 61′); Lingard (Iqbal 89′), Van de Beek; Amad (Shoretire 68′), Mata (Savage 89′), Elanga; Greenwood

Substitutes Not Used: Kovar; Hardley

Bookings: Shola Shoretire 79′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Greenwood and Elanga start against Young Boys; Savage, Hardley, Iqbal and Mengi on the bench

Manchester United face Young Boys at Old Trafford in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League this evening, knowing that they have secured the top spot in the group as they have beaten Villarreal twice in the competition this season and the Spanish side can only match the ten points United have amassed in the competition so far this season. If United beat Young Boys, which should happen, they will have 13 points this season. Young Boys only have four points in five matches and three of them came in the opening match when they beat United 2-1. Ralf Rangnick’s United side should be seeking a confidence building session.

United are undefeated since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by the Old Trafford club. Michael Carrick led United to two wins and one draw and Rangnick has one win in his first match in charge, seeing United beat Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Old Trafford club have a pretty easy run throughout December and should be challenging those above them, breaking into the top four by the time we reach 2022. That will be the plan that United should have set, seeking to start a title charge under Rangnick with the club expected to learn a lot under his tutelage. Hopefully, Manchester United start to show signs they can compete this season.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Matic, Shaw;

Lingard, Van de Beek;

Amad, Mata, Elanga;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

Heaton, Kovar; Hardley, Mengi; Iqbal, Savage, Shoretire

Young Boys:

Faivre;

Maceiras, Camara, Lustenberger, Lefort;

Pereira, Aebischer;

Elia, Rieder, Ngamaleu;

Siebatcheu

Substitutes:

Zbinden, L’aidai, Zesiger, Sierro, Kanga, Sulejmani, Jankewitz, Burgy, Maier, Toure, Lauper, Hefti

United and Young Boys have met a total of three times in the UEFA Champions League. United have won two, losing one matches, scoring five goals, conceding two. Both matches were played in the group stages of the competition during the 2018/19 season. United won the first match 3-0 with Paul Pogba scoring a brace and Anthony Martial scoring the other. The match was played at the Stade de Suisse. At Old Trafford, it was a 1-0 victory for United with Marouane Fellaini scoring the only goal of the match. United will be seeking to continue their unbeaten run against the Swiss side. United were beaten 2-1 earlier this season – seeking a win here.

There is no real connection between Manchester United and Young Boys. United have never bought a player from the Swiss club and Young Boys have never bought or loaned a player directly from United. However, a player who has previously played for United has played for Young Boys. Saidy Janko, who was once part of the United academy was loaned to the Swiss side during the 2019/20 season. Janko started life at FC Zurich and was purchased by United in the summer of 2013, playing in the academy. He made one appearance for United’s first team, 28 for the U23s, scoring one goal and six assists and four appearances for the U19s.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-2-2] Ronaldo, Elanga, Sancho and Amad to lead the attack against Young Boys?

Manchester United face Young Boys at Old Trafford in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening, knowing that they have secured the top spot in the group as they have beaten Villarreal twice in the competition this season and the Spanish side can only match the ten points United have amassed in the competition so far this season. If United beat Young Boys, which should happen, they will have 13 points this season. Young Boys only have four points in five matches and three of them came in the opening match when they beat United 2-1. Ralf Rangnick’s United side should be seeking a confidence building session.

United are undefeated since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by the Old Trafford club. Michael Carrick led United to two wins and one draw and Rangnick has one win in his first match in charge, seeing United beat Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Old Trafford club have a pretty easy run throughout December and should be challenging those above them, breaking into the top four by the time we reach 2022. That will be the plan that United should have set, seeking to start a title charge under Rangnick with the club expected to learn a lot under his tutelage. Hopefully, Manchester United start to show signs they can compete this season.

Previous meetings with Young Boys and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Young Boys have met a total of three times in the UEFA Champions League. United have won two, losing one matches, scoring five goals, conceding two. Both matches were played in the group stages of the competition during the 2018/19 season. United won the first match 3-0 with Paul Pogba scoring a brace and Anthony Martial scoring the other. The match was played at the Stade de Suisse. At Old Trafford, it was a 1-0 victory for United with Marouane Fellaini scoring the only goal of the match. United will be seeking to continue their unbeaten run against the Swiss side. United were beaten 2-1 earlier this season – seeking a win here.

There is no real connection between Manchester United and Young Boys. United have never bought a player from the Swiss club and Young Boys have never bought or loaned a player directly from United. However, a player who has previously played for United has played for Young Boys. Saidy Janko, who was once part of the United academy was loaned to the Swiss side during the 2019/20 season. Janko started life at FC Zurich and was purchased by United in the summer of 2013, playing in the academy. He made one appearance for United’s first team, 28 for the U23s, scoring one goal and six assists and four appearances for the U19s.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been in great form this season and despite a busy month ahead, should keep his place for this match. It should be a positive match for United and they should be able to rest a number of key players to keep them fresh for the challenge ahead this month. United may be through to the knockout stages of the Champions League this season but they should get there by winning their remaining match which is what Rangnick would want as this team needs to raise in confidence which will help them with the challenges ahead of them at this stage of the season. United will have a very bust December.

There will be an impending challenge of Dean Henderson as he will want to be given a chance under the new manager but I feel his match fitness may not be good enough to start this week – but he will be given a chance in December with him expected to either push for a first team place or to leave the club on loan for the remainder of he season in January. Should that happen, United will have both Tom Heaton and Lee Grant to fall back on should they need to. It is going to be a long and tough season so there will need to be competition in this position to spur De Gea on as Henderson’s development seems to have raised his game considerably.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence has performed much better in the last four matches, winning three times, drawing once but keeping two clean sheets. Against Young Boys, Rangnick has the chance to rest some players but with injuries, he might not be able to do that unless youth is drafted in – however, the U19’s will face Young Boys on Wednesday afternoon in their final Youth League match, knowing they are already though to the knockout stage, like the first team. I would expect both Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles to keep their places in the fullback positions. Both have played well with Dalot being a stand out player against Crystal Palace.

Harry Maguire played well against Palace, as did Victor Lindelof but for the players to be kept fresh fr the remainder of the month, one of both need to be rested ahead of the trip to Norwich City on Saturday. Maguire has recently returned from injury, so he should be able to continue so Lindelof could be rested. As Phil Jones has not been included in the squad for the Champions League at this stage of the season, which could change although a player would need to be removed, I would think that Eric Bailly could fill in for Lindelof in this match having a significantly better last match than he did against Manchester City in November.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred

United’s midfield still has some problems but for the foreseeable future, Rangnick will have to make do with the players that he has at his perusal. Against Young Boys, it is expected that the 4-2-2-2 formation will return, which is not really a secret but it is something that will change during the match. I would expect Scott McTominay and Fred to both start against Young Boys. McTominay shows aggression and determination but aside of that, needs to offer more going forward for United to succeed. He is a younger player and has lots of experience and should be able to kick on under Rangnick and beyond.

Fred is a player who is hot and cold at times. Sometimes he shows a poor quality of footballer but other times, he has something that can change the outcome of matches, as he did against Palace on Sunday. If Fred and McTominay can remain in the form they are showing, there is no reason why they cannot kick on and help United find their feet. The likes of Nemanja Matic or Donny van de Beek could step into this position, despite the fact the Dutchman is more of an attacking midfielder, but he has played in a deeper position before, so could find himself some involvement in this squad during the Festive period, which will be busy.

Wingers: Amad Diallo, Jadon Sancho

United have an array of attacking players with many able to play in the wide positions. Most recently, Marcus Rashford has played but does not seem to be in a period of form, so giving him a break in this match could be good for him, even if he comes off the bench at a point. Jadon Sancho has been strutting his stuff in the wide positions recently, scoring two goals in two matches under Michael Carrick, which was a great start for him. He has not come all that close to scoring in the last two matches. He might have to play on the left, which is a position he has played in at times, one that he has done well in too.

Sancho is a player that has bags of experience but will need time to fully adapt to at United. Amad Diallo missed out on a loan spell through injury in the summer and has recently fond fitness again. Starting him in this match will allow him to gain match fitness, playing in the biggest European competition against a team that United could easily beat with the right direction set by the manager and the coaches. There is a chance that he will be loaned out in January, and this could be good for that happening as United will want him to play regular first team football. This could be a great opportunity for the Ivorian.

Forward: Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo

The attacking line is probably the most well stocked for United at this time, but there are injury problems with Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard and it probably would have been better if some of these players were fit and ready to play. That said, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals in the last five Champions League matches and he will be wanting to keep that record alive, scoring in this match – even if he does only play the first half of the match with a view of keeping him fresh for the Norwich City match on Saturday evening. If some players were ready to feature for United, then changes could be made during the match.

Anthony Elanga came off the bench against Crystal Palace on Sunday. It was not the greatest of matches for him but with him scoring at the end of last season and during pre-season, there is talent there to be nurtured. At U23 level this season, he has four goals and two assists so there is something to tap into which could see that progression into the first team where he could find his feet and help United’s attack into the new era for the club. Playing alongside Ronaldo could be great for him as he will see what the Portuguese superstar does, learning something from him in his bid to become a star at United, which is something he is capable of.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood

United came make a total of five substitutions in the Champions League, which means that there can be some rotation in the match, keeping fresh legs for the trip to Norwich City on Saturday. Dean Henderson could be on the bench, if he does not take De Gea’s position in the starting XI, which seems a bit early based on his lack of first team involvement so far this season. There will be chances for him this month, if he is deemed fit to play a part for the club. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could both be available. Phil Jones is not eligible in the Champions League at this stage and Luke Shaw still seeks to be injured, at least at this time.

The midfield could see the experience of Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matić and Donny van de Beek all able to push for a chance to show what they can do ahead of what will be a busy month for United. In attack, the strongest positions, at least on paper for United, could see Anthony Martial, if he recovers from injury, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood all with a point to prove. It would seem that Edinson Cavani will miss out again with a Tendon injury but his participation is not all that far away relying on reports about him. Perhaps if he is not involved in this match, he could feature against Norwich City?

Written by John Walker

Preview: Rangnick to give Amad and Elanga a chance against Young Boys with United wanting another win?

Manchester United -v- Young Boys

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 8 December 2021, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Benoît Bastien Assistants: Hicham Zakrani, Aurélien Berthomieu

Fourth Official: Jérémie Pignard

VAR: Benoît Millot Assistant VAR: Delajod Willy

Manchester United face Young Boys at Old Trafford in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening, knowing that they have secured the top spot in the group as they have beaten Villarreal twice in the competition this season and the Spanish side can only match the ten points United have amassed in the competition so far this season. If United beat Young Boys, which should happen, they will have 13 points this season. Young Boys only have four points in five matches and three of them came in the opening match when they beat United 2-1. Ralf Rangnick’s United side should be seeking a confidence building session.

United are undefeated since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by the Old Trafford club. Michael Carrick led United to two wins and one draw and Rangnick has one win in his first match in charge, seeing United beat Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Old Trafford club have a pretty easy run throughout December and should be challenging those above them, breaking into the top four by the time we reach 2022. That will be the plan that United should have set, seeking to start a title charge under Rangnick with the club expected to learn a lot under his tutelage. Hopefully, Manchester United start to show signs they can compete this season.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WWDWLL

Crystal Palace 1-0 W, Arsenal 3-2 W, Chelsea 1-1 D, Villarreal 2-0 W, Watford 4-1 L, Manchester City 2-0 L

Goals: 12 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 5 – Bruno Fernandes, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Fred, Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Paul Pogba, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Fred, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Raphael Varane

Young Boys – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLDDL

Servette FC 2-1 L, FC Lugano 3-1 W, FC Zürich 1-0 L, Atalanta 3-3 D, Grasshopper Club Zürich 1-1 D, Villarreal 2-0 L

Goals: 12 – Jordan Siebatcheu, 9 – Wilfried Kanga, 8 – Christian Fassnacht, 6 – Meschack Elia, 4 – Michel Aebischer, Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu, Vincent Sierro, 3 – Ulisses Garcia, Fabian Rieder, 2 – Silvan Hefti, Felix Mambimbi, Cédric Zesiger, 1 – Nicolas Bürgy, Quentin Maceiras, Miralem Sulejmani

Assists: 9 – Michel Aebischer, 7 – Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu, 6 – Meschack Elia, Felix Mambimbi, 5 – Fabian Rieder, 3 – Silvan Hefti, Marvin Spielmann, Miralem Sulejmani, 2 – Ulisses Garcia, Jordan Siebatcheu, 1 – Christian Fassnacht, Wilfried Kanga, Christopher Martins Pereira, Vincent Sierro

Previous meetings with Young Boys and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Young Boys have met a total of three times in the UEFA Champions League. United have won two, losing one matches, scoring five goals, conceding two. Both matches were played in the group stages of the competition during the 2018/19 season. United won the first match 3-0 with Paul Pogba scoring a brace and Anthony Martial scoring the other. The match was played at the Stade de Suisse. At Old Trafford, it was a 1-0 victory for United with Marouane Fellaini scoring the only goal of the match. United will be seeking to continue their unbeaten run against the Swiss side. United were beaten 2-1 earlier this season – seeking a win here.

There is no real connection between Manchester United and Young Boys. United have never bought a player from the Swiss club and Young Boys have never bought or loaned a player directly from United. However, a player who has previously played for United has played for Young Boys. Saidy Janko, who was once part of the United academy was loaned to the Swiss side during the 2019/20 season. Janko started life at FC Zurich and was purchased by United in the summer of 2013, playing in the academy. He made one appearance for United’s first team, 28 for the U23s, scoring one goal and six assists and four appearances for the U19s.

Team News: Two players ruled out for United with Young Boys having eight players out of action at this time. Could United field some youth players along with fringe players, or remain strong to get the win?

Paul Pogba (Thigh) and Raphael Varane (Thigh) have been ruled out for the visit of Young Boys. Luke Shaw (Head) and Edinson Cavani  (Tendon) both have a 25% chance of being available for United whilst Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard (both Muscular) have a 50% chance of being fit to face Young Boys. Rangnick could pick a number of fringe players to face Young Boys and with the U19’s also through, some youth players could be given a chance in this match, which would be ideal for them but may not actually happen. I am sure that United will field a side capable of getting all three points in the bag in the final group stage match.

David von Ballmoos (Shoulder), Cédric Zesiger (Metatarsal), Ulisses Garcia (Calf), Christian Fassnacht (Concussion), Fabian Rieder (Illness), Esteban Petignat (Unknown), Jean-Pierre Nsame (Achilles) and Joël Monteiro (Knee) will all be out of action for the visit to the Theatre of Dreams in the final Champions League group stage match. Wilfried Kanga is also a doubt according to UEFA.com. It could well be that Young Boys will have an inexperienced squad to face United, which could also be the case for United, who have a chance to rotate the squad in a match considered as a dead rubber, seeing as their qualification has been confirmed.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Elanga and Amad Diallo to be given a chance against Young Boys? Fred and Scott McTominay should keep their places with Eric Bailly partnering Harry Maguire?

Rangnick is still in his infancy as United’s manager but he will have a big clue about who he can trust, who needs to get a chance and probably who needs to have a rest before bigger fixtures arrive this month. This is in effect a dead rubber of a match because United have already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition. Whilst United will still want to win and Cristiano Ronaldo will still be seeking to break records, scoring in every match in the competition so far this season, which will mean he should still play, even if it is just for the first half of the match. United have a lack of forwards right now but could bring in some youth.

I would imagine that David De Gea will keep his place in goal against Young Boys, although I would not be surprised if Dean Henderson plays ahead of him. United will want to win this match though and the English goalkeeper does not have much match fitness this season. In defence, Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles should keep their places, as should Harry Maguire. With Phil Jones not registered in this competition, Eric Bailly could partner him. Scott McTominay and Fred should play in the midfield two with Jadon Sancho (left) and Amad Diallo (right) in the wide positions. Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Elanga could spearhead the attack.

Match Prediction: United will be seeking to end the group stages of the Champions League on a high with a win over Young Boys, paying them back for their shock defeat at the start of the competition.

United were beaten by Young Boys in the opening group stage fixture this season, losing 2-1. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off, which was harsh considering the the next evening, a player did something similar and was not sent off. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first goal of the game in the 13th minute with Young Boys equalising in the 66th minute and scoring the winner five minutes into added time at the end of the match. It was a poor defeat for United and added pressure to the club in the competition, knowing what happened last season with them needing a point from their last two matches, ending up defeated in both.

On Wednesday at the Theatre of Dreams, United will need to kick back and ensure they beat Young Boys this time. United are safely through to the knockout stage of the Champions League this season but with Rangnick’s second match in charge of the club, they will not want a defeat to destabilise the form United have shown in the last four matches with three wins, one draw and two clean sheets. United have a relatively easier run this month, so should be able to rotate the squad significantly, with players also returning from injury, which will take the pressure off those being used more than others at this time.

Manchester United 2-0 Young Boys

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Ronaldo and Sancho combine to give Carrick his first victory as interim manager; United though to the knockout stages of the Champions League

Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-0 in the Champions League, securing a round of 16 place in the competition this season, which is an improvement on last season. Michael Carrick will be happy with the victory and the clean sheet. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 78th minute of the match, scoring his tenth goal of the season, his sixth in five Champions League matches and his 799th career goal. Jadon Sancho doubled United’s lead in the 90th minute of the match, scoring his first goal for the club since his arrival in the summer. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s work at the club is over but look at what he’s helped to build.

United started positively in their first match led by Michael Carrick following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Scott McTominay had a header on goal in the early stages but was it was into the side netting. David De Gea was up for the challenge with Villarreal having two chances on goal in the opening ten minutes of the match. Villarreal started to take charge of the game in the first half hour, having the Lion’s share of possession and getting another shot on goal, which De Gea has to make a diving save to deny. United were playing cautiously and so far had kept their heads, which was a positive sign.

During a positive period of play, Fred seemed to injure himself, which on the replay look like he twisted his foot with his boot rooted into the pitch. He immediately went down and required treatment. However, he did not look like he was in agony and managed to get to his feet and walk off before coming back onto the pitch. Seconds later. Victor Lindelof was down with an apparent knee injury after a collision with Arnaut Danjuma, but he was fine to continue. Donny van de Beek was booked for a foul, despite winning the ball, in the 41st minute with De Gea needing to weather a free-kick, which was no real threat on his goal.

There were no changes at the start of the second half for either team, which bodes well for Fred, who must not be feeling anything from the suspected injury in the first half of the match. Villarreal were trying to get ahead in this match, as with the head to head record, with United winning earlier in the season, it would be a positive for United in the final match of the group stage regarding qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. The Spanish side were finding it hard to break United down. Likewise for United trying to get ahead but Villarreal were enjoying a large spell on the ball with United in their own half for much of the second half so far.

De Gea made another save in the 60th minute of the match, keeping United in the match. He also weathered the corner, because he sent the ball out of play, but Villarreal were still in possession of the ball and seeking to get ahead in this match. Carrick had a number of players warming up on the sidelines after the hour mark of the match, so the time for a change was coming. Danjuma had a strike on goal in the 63rd minute of the match but his attempt was well over the crossbar and into the crowd. In the 66th minute, Carrick made a double substitution with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford replacing Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial.

After the changes, United seemed a but more determined to get up into Villarreal’s half and threaten, which has not been the case for much of this match. Perhaps it was the right time for the changes. Jadon Sancho broke into the box in the 71st minute, but as soon as he unleashed his for the goalkeeper made the save and Villarreal were back in possession of the ball. It was the best United have done so far in the match, which is such a shame. Cristiano Ronaldo was in the Villarreal box controlling the ball with his chest, the referee suggested it was his arm and stopped play with Ronaldo unimpressed.

In the 78th minute of the match, Ronaldo found the lead for United with a sublime finish from range, scoring his tenth goal of the season so far, his sixth goal in five Champions League matches this season. It was a confidence builder for United and they will need to keep their heads and ensure it stays that way. Ronaldo almost scored his 800th career goal minutes later, hitting a diagonal ball across the face of the goal. Bruno Fernandes then had a chance on goal, which was not going to give United a two-goal cushion at this stage of the match. United got what they needed, which was the bare minimum.

Jadon Sancho got United’s second goal in the 90th minute with Bruno Fernandes getting the assist. It was a great finish from the winger, his first for the club which might take some pressure off him. Carrick made two further changes; Nemanja Matic on for Ronaldo and Juan Mata on for Sancho in added time. United will face Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, which will be an important match for United to get right which could see them in a position to claw back some points and better their position in the league at this sage of the season. Come on United!

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Managed to keep Villarreal out of his goal in the first half, which is a positive based on the attacks they had on United's goal. He's proved himself this evening with his saves and clean sheet. Onwards and upwards from here?

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Lacking confidence and this match will probably help. His passing was not the best and his thinking needs to be quicker as he took a while to offload the ball getting caught at times. Perhaps a period on the bench would help him?

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2 Victor Lindelof

Had a positive first half which showed his determination to see United succeed, making five clearances and one block. Could it be his time to shine? Held his head high in the second half as United got two goals, keeping a clean sheet.

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5 Harry Maguire

Seems to have found some form, but it is a results game, isn't it? He defended well and did what was needed. He needs to keep this form. He's been terrible for over a month now.

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27 Alex Telles

Defensively, he seemed to be caught out at times. Better going forward but needs to focus on his passing as he overhit the ball a few times. Will be rusty having not played many minutes this season.

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17 Fred

Seemed up for the challenge. Raised his game a little, perhaps? Seemed to have hurt his ankle late in the first half but recovered. Provided a lot of work rate and seems to have done what was needed against Villarreal. Positivity perhaps?

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39 Scott McTominay

Got forward at times and could have had a goal in the opening minutes, but hit the side netting. It was a solid performance that he can build on. United needed that.

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25 Jadon Sancho

Got his first goal for the club in the last minute of the match. So pleased for him. Played brilliantly, seemingly playing further back that a right-wing position. Early days in that respect though. He will find much confidence from this performance.

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34 Donny van de Beek

A positive performance. Ran his ground and sought to break through on goal at times. He's a decent player that needs to remain at the club this winter. In the 66th minute of the match he was replaced by Fernandes.

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9 Anthony Martial

Needs to do so much more to regain his starting position. I don't think he showed much in the first half of this match. He will be rusty though. Offered little in the second half and was replaced by Rashford in the 66th minute.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored his tenth goal of the season, his sixth in five Champions League matches, which shows what a player his still is at 36. There will be people moaning about United's reliance on him but who cares about them. You can see what scoring for United means to him. Replaced by Matic in the first minute of added time.

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Substitutes

18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Van de Beek 66'. Got an assist for Sancho's first goal for the club. Improved United's attack considerably.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Martial 66'. As soon as he came on, United sparked into like in an attacking sense. The first goal came 12 minutes later.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Ronaldo 90+1'. Came on with two minutes of added time left. Not enough time to make an impact.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Sancho 90+3'. Came on at the death. Not enough time to find much involvement.

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Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 78′, Jadon Sancho 90′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 90′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Sancho (Mata 90+3′), Van de Beek (Fernandes 66′), Martial (Rashford 66′); Ronaldo (Matic 90+1′)

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Dalot; Lingard; Amad

Bookings: Yeremi Pino 33′; Donny van de Beek 41′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Donny van de Beek starts against Villarreal; Cristiano Ronaldo leads the line

Manchester United will take on Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica in the UEFA Champions League this evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed his final match for the club as he was sacked following the 4-1 defeat to Watford which was a new low for the club. Michael Carrick will step into the shoes of Solskjaer for this match as the club looks to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season, which suggests another change could happen during the summer. United will need to get three points in the bag in this match to secure their knockout stage participation in the Champions League this season.

Whilst it is sad to see Solskjaer leave the job he loved, it was time for a change as it seemed clear that there were problems somewhere in the club at playing level, despite the fact there remains a problem with the ownership and the board of the club, who just don’t seem to want the club to achieve what the players and the supporters want the club to achieve. United need to continue building on the same plan that Solskjaer helped to define, returning the club to a position whereby they will be able to challenge for the big honours in domestic and European football. Thanks for everything, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Fred, McTominay;

Sancho, Van de Beek, Martial;

Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Dalot; Mata, Lingard, Fernandes, Matic; Rashford, Amad

Villarreal:

Rulli;

Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan;

Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo, Gomez;

Pino, Danjuma

Substitutes:

Asenjo, Alvarez, Gaspar, Alcacer, Iborra, Chukwueze, Dia, Raba, Moreno, Pena, Mandi, Pedraza

United and Villarreal have met a total of six times in the history of both clubs with United winning once – the last match between the two teams. There have been four draws and one defeat with the first four matches played in the Champions League group stages with the last match played in the Europa League final. United won 2-1 in the meeting earlier this season, the first goals scored against them in the Champions League. Before that, in the Europa League final last season, it was a 1-1 draw after extra time with Villarreal winning 11-10 on penalties. If United can get a good result in this match, they will have a good change of getting out the group.

There is not much history between United and Villarreal as far as players are concerned. Eric Bailly is the only current United player who came to the club from the Spanish club in the summer of 2016 for €30 million. Since the transfer, Bailly has made a total of 107 appearances, scoring one goal and one assist. United were apparently interested in signing Pau Torres during the summer. Guiseppe Rossi was sold to Villarreal in the 2007/08 season and Diego Forlan arrived at the Spanish club in the 2004/05 season. Both players did well in Spain with Rossi scoring 82 goals in 181 appearances and Forlan scoring 58 goals in 121 appearances.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-3] Donny van de Beek is the player that can rejuvenate Manchester United’s midfield

Manchester United will take on Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed his final match for the club as he was sacked following the 4-1 defeat to Watford which was a new low for the club. Michael Carrick will step into the shoes of Solskjaer for this match as the club looks to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season, which suggests another change could happen during the summer. United will need to get three points in the bag in this match to secure their knockout stage participation in the Champions League this season.

Whilst it is sad to see Solskjaer leave the job he loved, it was time for a change as it seemed clear that there were problems somewhere in the club at playing level, despite the fact there remains a problem with the ownership and the board of the club, who just don’t seem to want the club to achieve what the players and the supporters want the club to achieve. United need to continue building on the same plan that Solskjaer helped to define, returning the club to a position whereby they will be able to challenge for the big honours in domestic and European football. Thanks for everything, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Previous meetings with Villarreal and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villarreal have met a total of six times in the history of both clubs with United winning once – the last match between the two teams. There have been four draws and one defeat with the first four matches played in the Champions League group stages with the last match played in the Europa League final. United won 2-1 in the meeting earlier this season, the first goals scored against them in the Champions League. Before that, in the Europa League final last season, it was a 1-1 draw after extra time with Villarreal winning 11-10 on penalties. If United can get a good result in this match, they will have a good change of getting out the group.

There is not much history between United and Villarreal as far as players are concerned. Eric Bailly is the only current United player who came to the club from the Spanish club in the summer of 2016 for €30 million. Since the transfer, Bailly has made a total of 107 appearances, scoring one goal and one assist. United were apparently interested in signing Pau Torres during the summer. Guiseppe Rossi was sold to Villarreal in the 2007/08 season and Diego Forlan arrived at the Spanish club in the 2004/05 season. Both players did well in Spain with Rossi scoring 82 goals in 181 appearances and Forlan scoring 58 goals in 121 appearances.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League at the Estadio de la Cerámica on Tuesday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

From my point of view, David De Gea has not had a poor season despite the number of goals conceded. He has shown some improvement in some areas, specifically saving penalties. The defeat to Watford could have been so much worse if he did not save that penalty. The Spanish goalkeeper does need to continue to improve though as he will be playing for his place in the team again, depending what happens with the vacant managerial position at the club, which will be immediately filled by Michael Carrick. That could change later this week because United take on Villarreal around 72 hours following the Watford match.

I would like to see De Gea change his game a little. Dean Henderson was a breath of fresh air last season with his different approach to goalkeeping but De Gea will not change his age as he has become who he is now. Henderson is inexperienced when it comes to playing for United but he could well be the new era in the goalkeeping position under a new manager. De Gea should command his back four like Henderson has, in particularly in a way that Peter Schmeichel did. United need some kind of leader at the back as the current captain has not been leading like the likes of Steve Bruce, Nemanja Matic and Gary Neville would have.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United have conceded 29 goals in all competitions this season, and at this early stage of the season it is unacceptable. To blame that on Solskjaer would not be right. United are much better with Raphael Varane in the centre of the defence, but with him enduring his second injury spell at the club, United are left with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire. Phil Jones is not eligible to feature in the Champions League having not been named in the squad this season – that could change in January if he does not leave the club. Bailly was good in one match ch and terrible in the next, so he’s a wildcard options as you never know what you will get.

Against Villarreal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should feature in the fullback positions with the former keeping his place from Saturday’s defeat to Watford and needing a positive performance, or it could be the beginning of the end for him at United as he just does not seem to be improving. Telles should play ahead of Luke Shaw, who suffered his second injury in successive matches, so will probably need some time to recover, especially with Chelsea on the horizon. In the centre of the defence, Lindelof and Maguire will keep their places, with Maguire suspended for the Chelsea match. He owes United a brilliant performance after Saturday.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes

United’s midfield needs some surgery as it is not as good as it should be, especially in the defensive midfield area. Nemanja Matic has been great but having a player with youth on his side who can put some steel into the midfield is needed and neither Scott McTominay or Fred have done that, so one of them, preferably the latter should be pushed out of the club because it has not worked. That said, United will keep him, give him a new contract and we will have this conversation in a few more years, talking about the same thing. Against Villarreal, Scott McTominay should play in the defensive area of the midfield.

Donny van de Beek proved on Saturday that he needed to play more often as he was the best player on the pitch, which was great to see. He looked determined and possibly was one of Solskjaer’s biggest regrets of his time managing the club. If he had played more, it might have worked out well for him. Bruno Fernandes should also feature in the 4-3-3 formation, providing some addition attacking play but also fortifying the midfield when United are under attack. A 4-3-3 formation seems to be the best with United’s midfield and attack at this time, but it all depends on what vision Carrick has for this match.

Forward: Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford

Saturday’s performance was not the best but if Cristiano Ronaldo wants to achieve something at United this season, he will need to start getting into the swing of things. Granted, United should not be relying on him but he wants to achieve so is it really reliance? He has scored nine goals and two assists in his time back at the club with him scoring five goals in the last four matches in the Champions League, it feels like he could score again on Tuesday evening in Spain. United have a good squad, at least on paper at this time and it will be up to Carrick, then whoever to get the best out of them for the remainder of the season.

Ronaldo is a Champion League player and with Edinson Cavani still suffering from tendon issues an Anthony Martial well out of form, he might have to lead the line again, which is something that won’t faze him. Marcus Rashford should feature on the left of the forward three, where he has excelled over the last few seasons under Solskajer, although he was switched on Saturday, which should not happen here. Jadon Sancho should start on the right, which is his favoured position and the one he was bought in to feature in – he had a good performance at times against Watford and perhaps this could be the start of his finding his feet properly.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson, Tom Heaton; Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Fred, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic; Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani

Five substitutes are able to be used in the Champions League, which will be beneficial for United ahead of the Chelsea match on Sunday and United will benefit from a few extra hours rest with Chelsea playing on Tuesday evening in the 8pm kick off. Not that it will give the much of an advantage with the form that top of the league Chelsea are in right now. I would expect to see both Dean Henderson and Tom Heaton on the bench in the goalkeeper positions with De Gea keeping his place in the starting XI. That may change if Carrick feels that one of those should have the chance to push for De Gea’s number one position.

In defence, Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could be available should the defence need some switching, which you know will be the case. This team are not all of a sudden going to become a steel defensive side – that will take time. If it does happen, will anyone ask any questions of them? In the midfield, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Fred, Aad Diallo and Nemanja Matic should all be available. United will need a change in the midfield at some point in the match. In attack, Anthony Martial, who was not great when he came on against Watford and Edinson Cavani, if fit could be available. Maybe Anthony Elanga could fill in is Cavani is unavailable.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Manchester United need to beat Villarreal to continue rebuild post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Villarreal -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League

Estadio de la Cerámica, Villarreal, Spain

Tuesday 23 November 2021, KO 17:45 GMT

Referee: Felix Brych Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp

Fourth Official: Daniel Schlager

VAR: Marco Fritz Assistant VAR: Harm Osmers

Manchester United will take on Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed his final match for the club as he was sacked following the 4-1 defeat to Watford which was a new low for the club. Michael Carrick will step into the shoes of Solskjaer for this match as the club looks to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season, which suggests another change could happen during the summer. United will need to get three points in the bag in this match to secure their knockout stage participation in the Champions League this season.

Whilst it is sad to see Solskjaer leave the job he loved, it was time for a change as it seemed clear that there were problems somewhere in the club at playing level, despite the fact there remains a problem with the ownership and the board of the club, who just don’t seem to want the club to achieve what the players and the supporters want the club to achieve. United need to continue building on the same plan that Solskjaer helped to define, returning the club to a position whereby they will be able to challenge for the big honours in domestic and European football. Thanks for everything, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LLDWLW

Watford 4-1 L, Manchester City 2-0 L, Atalanta 2-2 D, Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 W, Liverpool 5-0 L, Atalanta 3-2 W

Goals: 9 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 8 – Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, 2 – Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Raphael Varane

Villarreal – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: DWWLDL

Celta Vigo 1-1 D, Getafe 1-0 W, Young Boys 2-0 W, Valencia 2-0 L, Cadiz 3-3 D, Athletic Bilbao 2-1 L

Goals: 7 – Arnaut Danjuma, 4 – Manu Trigueros, 3 – Alberto Moreno, 2 – Gerard Moreno, Yeremi Pino, 1 – Paco Alcácer, Etienne Capoue, Samuel Chukwueze, Francis Coquelin, Boulaye Dia, Pau Torres

Assists: 3 – Daniel Parejo, Yeremi Pino, 2 – Paco Alcácer, Arnaut Danjuma, Boulaye Dia, Gerard Moreno, Alfonso Pedraza, 1 – Serge Aurier, Etienne Capoue, Francis Coquelin, Moi Gómez

Previous meetings with Villarreal and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villarreal have met a total of six times in the history of both clubs with United winning once – the last match between the two teams. There have been four draws and one defeat with the first four matches played in the Champions League group stages with the last match played in the Europa League final. United won 2-1 in the meeting earlier this season, the first goals scored against them in the Champions League. Before that, in the Europa League final last season, it was a 1-1 draw after extra time with Villarreal winning 11-10 on penalties. If United can get a good result in this match, they will have a good change of getting out the group.

There is not much history between United and Villarreal as far as players are concerned. Eric Bailly is the only current United player who came to the club from the Spanish club in the summer of 2016 for €30 million. Since the transfer, Bailly has made a total of 107 appearances, scoring one goal and one assist. United were apparently interested in signing Pau Torres during the summer. Guiseppe Rossi was sold to Villarreal in the 2007/08 season and Diego Forlan arrived at the Spanish club in the 2004/05 season. Both players did well in Spain with Rossi scoring 82 goals in 181 appearances and Forlan scoring 58 goals in 121 appearances.

Team News: Varane, Pogba and Greenwood ruled out of Villarreal match; Cavani and Shaw both doubts whilst Maguire will be available – Moreno is the only injured player for Villarreal at this time.

Raphael Varane (Thigh), Paul Pogba (Thigh) and Mason Greenwood (COVID) will all be out of the clash with Villarreal on Tuesday evening. Edinson Cavani (Tendon) has a 25% chance of being available for the journey to Spain with Luke Shaw (Head) having a 50% chance of featuring for United. Harry Maguire will be available for the match despite his sending off in the defeat to Watford, but will miss the Chelsea match at the weekend. United will be seeking to overcome the defeat to Watford, ending a turbulent period and ensuring they take their chances to get out of this Champions League group and into the knockout stages of the competition.

Gerard Moreno (Torn Muscle) is the only absentee for Villarreal ahead of he clash with United. They will be upset with the manner of the 2-1 defeat earlier in the season and be seeking to avenge that in their home stadium. The current form is not the best, but neither is United’s so it could be an even match. Villarreal are currently second in the group with the same number of points as United, but the head to head record is in United’s favour at this time. That will all be different with another defeat at this stage of the season, which is not what United will want, even if some of the players have given up performing – that says more about them.

Predicted Starting XI: Donny van de Beek must start against Villarreal; Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to lead the attack in the Champions Legue.

Following Solskjaer’s departure of the club, Carrick will step into his shoes and pick the team, formation and tactics for this match. It is expected that more of the same will be provided and the players who were supposedly the favourites of Solskjaer’s will continue to feature. However, now is the time for change and the stagnant way in which United have been playing for more than two months. United are back in an uncertain period and many of these players will be playing for their own futures at the club as nothing is guaranteed until there is a permanent manager at the helm – even then they cannot take anything for granted.

David De Gea will most likely keep his place in goal, unless there is going to be an upset coming with Dean Henderson stepping in, but I don’t think that is the case. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles could form the back four with Luke Shaw likely to be out after having to come off injured in his last two matches. Scott McTominay could play in the defensive midfield position in a 4-3-3 with Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek in the advanced areas – the Dutchman needs to start as he was the best player against Watford. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo should lead the attack.

Match Prediction: United and Villarreal have a five match history in European competition with four draws, one defeat (on penalties) and one victory. That needs to become two on Tuesday evening.

United’s history with Villarreal has not been all that impressive. Four matches in the Champions League before this season were goalless. The Europa League final was a 1-1 draw with United losing 11-10 on penalties. Earlier this season, Ronaldo scored the winner with Alex Telles also scoring his first goal for the club to come from behind. Of course, nothing is guaranteed in football and United are not guaranteed success Hard work could bring that but that is not a certain. United need to get back to basics, find a way to use their attacking talent and kick their opposition into touch to get an important three points in the bag.

This will be a hard match for United. Villarreal don’t have an impressive record either, so it will be tough for them too. Not everything that happened at the club was down to Solskjaer but there will be some so-called supporters who will hold everything that happened against him. The Glazer’s, Ed Woodward, Matt Judge and Richard Arnold all have a combined responsibility for what is happening at United and they will continue to do what keeps them all in a job with the money coming in. The players on the pitch will need to dig deep, rise above the challenge and ensure they can bring in the results as they are responsible for this too.

Villarreal 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Ronaldo to the rescue after United made a tough job tougher in Bergamo; Varane injured…

Manchester United drew 2-2 with Atalanta in the fourth UEFA Champions League group stage match. Josip Iličić opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match before Cristiano Ronaldo struck in added time at the end of the first half to level the match. Just eleven minutes into the second half, Duván Zapata doubled the home sides lead with United looking poor in the night – especially after losing Raphael Varane to injury once again. Ronaldo struck again in added time at the end of the second half to rescue a draw for United. This would then lead to pundits and the media stating that United should not be relying on Ronaldo.

After a mixed start, United started to find out how much Atalanta wanted the win in this match with their pressing but United’s back three seemed to avert the danger early on. However, in the 12th minute of the match, Josip Iličić broke the deadlock, assisted by Duván Zapata. United would have to come from behind again. Solskjaer’s side was lucky the damage was not doubled with the home side seeking to punish United, as they did a fortnight ago in the first meeting between the two sides. In the 31st minute, a penalty was called for after Eric Bailly blocked a shot but VAR gave nothing – and rightly so.

United suffered a setback in the 38th minute after Raphael Varane had to come off injured and Solskjaer brought Mason Greenwood on, reverting United to a defensive four with Marcus Rashford on the left flank, Greenwood on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo as the main striker. In the first minute of added time, Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo were on the attack through the middle with the former passing back for the latter to equalise, scoring his eighth goal in the eleven matches he has played since returning to the Old Trafford club. In the second half, United needed to be quicker with their passing, also cutting out their mistakes.

United conceded again 11 minutes into the second half with Zapata scoring and José Luis Palomino assisting. VAR was involved in the decision though, which seemed to take an age. The goal was given. United seemed to have reverted to the poor team they had been in September and October, and looked like passengers on conceding a second goal. Solskjaer made a double substitution with Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani replacing Paul Pogba and Rashford. Atalanta seemed to be up for this match, having lost late in the game two weeks ago. United just seemed to be unable to find the equaliser at this time.

United still found themselves trying to get back from behind with Atalanta still pushing to secure the win. Solskjaer made another double substitution in the 87th minute of the match with Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay. United started to find their feet after the second double substitution as Ronaldo found his ninth goal for United in 11 matches, equalising the score, assisted by Greenwood. It was by no means a vintage performance for United, but the score was no level and United’s fortunes in the Champions League have changed with that goal, sending United back to the top of the group.

Five minutes were played at the end of the second half, and United did not have the time to seek a winner in this match. The draw would have to do – it was better than a defeat. Would the negative so-called United supporters accept that though? But who cares about them. Win, lose or draw – United is the team for me. Ronaldo has scored five goals in the Champions League this season, which is a great result for the 36-year-old who was written off after that proposed move to Manchester City came to a halt after United got themselves involved. What a return to the Theatre of Dreams for the Portuguese legend.

United need to get themselves in order ahead of the Manchester City match this weekend. There is a chance that Varane may not make it for the weekend after the injury he sustained in the first half of the match. Victor Lindelof suffered an injury in training on Monday, so he will remain a doubt so it could well be that either Teden Mengi is brought into the first team or Phil Jones is able to make his Premier League return this weekend. Either way, the pressure will be on ahead of Saturday’s derby at the Theatre of Dreams and with City coming back from a 2-0 defeat to Crysta Palace, they will be looking to beat United once again at Old Trafford.

United face Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season at Old Trafford on Saturday, which is another big match for Solskjaer’s side. The pressure will be immense going into the match and the media will be trying to find the weaknesses in the team ahead of the match, writing United off until the match is over. It is a shame is has to be like this as United are the team that everyone wants to read about, whether they are winning, drawing or losing. The international break cannot come quick enough, which will buy some time for some of the squad to rest, recover and find a way back to business.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made his first mistake of the season after seemingly misjudging Ilicic's effort on goal. It just slipped under him for the first goal. Zapata's goal was a good one, but perhaps De Gea could have come off the line to give him a better chance of making the save?

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3 Eric Bailly

Despite not playing for the club in a long time, he seemed to bail out the defence at times, which was good to see. When Varane came off, Maguire seemed to be well exposed. Bailly should start against City on Saturday.

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19 Raphael Varane

Started well for United and it is great to see him back but in the 38th minute of the match, he looked injured, sat on the pitch then walked off the pitch as he could not continue. He was replaced by Greenwood in the 38th minute.

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5 Harry Maguire

Slow and off the pace. Didn't seem to be present for Ilicic's goal and wanted the linesman to bail him out. For Zapata's goal, he looked like a Sunday League defender who was still drunk from the night before. Needs dropping to teach him a lesson.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Regressed from the weekend. Seemed unable to deal with Zapata and needs to be more clinical in defence. This three at the back formation does not suit him against a team willing to fight for a win. He was good against Spurs as they were terrible.

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39 Scott McTominay

It was a shame that he hit the post in the fourth minute - although it was a deflected effort - but a goal is a goal. Booked in the second half and was replaced by Sancho in the 87th minute of the match.

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6 Paul Pogba

Did not seem like he wanted to be there tonight. Still suspended for two more Premier League matches. Pogba owed it to United to put in a world class performance, but he only has a handful of those at United - most a distant memory. Replaced by Matic in the 69th minute.

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23 Luke Shaw

I'm not sure he provided enough width as Ilicic seemed to deal with him well when he made himself available for Zapata's goal. Not sure the form he is in is worth the risk agains City. Needs improvement. The form he was in last season is no longer present at this time.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Did what he could against Atalanta. Got an assist for Ronaldo's equaliser, after a good run into the box ad a pass back to his compatriot. He was marked by De Roon in the second have and ended up being replaced by Van de Beek in the 87th minute.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Seemed quiet in the first half playing alongside Ronaldo. Dropped off in the second half - which is understandable after his injury layoff. Replaced by Cavani in the 69th minute.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored twice for United, both in added time - one at the end of the first half, the other at the end of the second half. Both equalisers. Saved United's skin in the Champions League. He lacked a lot of service. Perhaps Van de Beek should have started instead of Pogba?

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Varane 38'. Played in a great pass to Ronaldo to level the game in added time in the second half. Hit the crossbar too, but was offside. Should start on Saturday.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Pogba 69'. Made little impact in the match, but United seemed to have improved slightly after Pogba came off.

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21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Rashford 69'. The Uruguayan should have started but I understand why Solskjaer rested him as he will be needed at the top of his game on Saturday.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Fernandes 87'. Should have started. Has great quality. Denied a goal by the keeper and seemed like he wanted to perform - perhaps to put himself in the shop window for January. It's a shame that he's treated to a few minutes here and there at United. He could have been a great signing, given the time.

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25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced McTominay 87'. Needs to be given more minutes. He won't shine if he's left on the bench and given cameo appearances.

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Goals: Josip Iličić 12′, Duván Zapata 56′; Cristiano Ronaldo 45+1′, 90+1′

Assists: Duván Zapata 12′, José Luis Palomino 56′; Bruno Fernandes 45+1′, Mason Greenwood 90+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Bailly, Varane (Greenwood 38′), Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, McTominay (Sancho 87′), Pogba (Matic 69′), Shaw; Fernandes (Van de Beek 87′); Rashford (Cavani 69′), Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Dalot, Telles; Mata, Lingard, Fred; Martial

Bookings: Scott McTominay 51′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ronaldo, Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba and Varane start against Atalanta; three at the back again

Manchester United return to UEFA Champions League action this evening evening as they travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta. Fresh from their 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to start a winning run once again as they look to finalise their participation in the European competition this season ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season. United have been in poor form recently but managed to beat both Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League. Solskjaer’s side sit firmly at the top of the group, by two points and a win will keep that in place with two matches remaining.

Solskjaer faced a lot of pressure over the last week following the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford. He emerged from that pressure, picked nine of the 11 players who started against Liverpool, changing the formation and welcoming Raphael Varane back from injury. That led to United scoring three goals against Spurs, making the North London side look amateur and piling the pressure onto Nuno Espírito Santo instead. This seems to be the United way. It seems strange that Solskjaer is the manager under the most pressure when there are some that would kill to have the points he has in the Premier League right now!

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Bailly, Varane, Maguire;

Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Pogba, Shaw;

Fernandes;

Rashford, Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Henderson; Dalot, Telles; Mata, Lingard, Fred, Matic, Van de Beek; Martial, Greenwood, Cavani, Sancho

Atalanta:

Musso;

De Roon, Demiral, Palomino;

Zappacosta, Freuler, Koopmeiners, Maehle;

Ilicic, Pasalic;

Zapata

Substitutes:

Rossi, Sportiello, Muriel, Pezzella, Malinovskiy, Djimsiti, Scalvini, Miranchuk, Lovato, Piccoli

United and Atalanta have met once in all competitions – in the UEFA Champions League almost a fortnight ago. The Red Devils were 2-0 down with goals from Mario Pašalić and Merit Demiral in just 30 minutes of the first half. United came out after the break a different side with goals from Marcus Rashford, and equaliser from Harry Maguire, and a winner from none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. United received three bookings in the match with Atalanta receiving four. With Atalanta in third place in the group, they will be seeking a win to stay in the competition this season, possibly avoiding the Europa League.

Amad Diallo is the only player to have played for both Manchester United and Atalanta. The 19-year-old started out as a youth player at Boca Barco before moving to Atalanta in 2015, coming though to the first team in 2019. Amad played five times for Atalanta, scoring one goal before his £37 million transfer to Old Trafford was completed in January 2021, despite being agreed in the summer of 2020. The Ivorian international has represented his country seven times; four times at U23 level and three times at senior level. He was also part of the squad for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021. Fresh from injury, Amad could play a part against Atalanta.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW