How Man Utd should line up for crucial Sevilla clash.
Manchester United may have been lifted by the return of Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw, but they are still ravaged by injuries and suspension for Thursday’s massive Europa League quarter-final second leg against Sevilla.
Lisandro Martinez is out for the season after fracturing his metatarsal in the first leg, while Raphael Varane did not travel to the south of Spain after hurting his ankle in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay is also out injured, and worst of all is the absence of Bruno Fernandes due to suspension.
The Portugal international has played 49 of United’s 51 matches this season, and has been one of Erik ten Hag’s most consistent players, bouncing back from a poor display at Anfield last month to prove his worth to the team both as a deep-lying midfielder and in attack.
So how do they replace Fernandes, and which, if any, of the returning players come back into the line up?
GOAL has come up with a solution to Ten Hag’s selection nightmare and picked a team that can cope with the pressure of a bouncing Sanchez Pizjuan, ensuring they leave Spain as semi-finalists…
GK: David de Gea
There is no question that De Gea is United’s No 1, even with his limitations when it comes to using his feet and passing out from the back.
Although Real Betis and Newcastle have put this facet of the game to the test recently, De Gea has not directly conceded a goal due to his kicking for some time and he has been in good form lately.
He performed well in his last trip to Seville in the second leg against Betis, and his ability to make jaw-dropping saves is likely to come in handy in a finely balanced game such as this.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
The former Crystal Palace man has been in excellent form for most of 2023, and United are much more solid when he is on the pitch.
He might not offer the attacking threat of Diogo Dalot, but he gives the team much more security, and that is what is needed in a match when United could have their backs against the wall for some time.
CB: Victor Lindelof
The Swede made his first start in two months against Nottingham Forest, but his smooth performance suggested Ten Hag should make more use of him.
He was confident on the ball and calm under pressure. Everything Harry Maguire was not.
He’s obviously not on the level of Varane or Martinez, but he can do a job when called upon, and this is a night for him to again demonstrate he is worth keeping around.
CB: Luke Shaw
Ten Hag has used Shaw at centre-back on a few occasions this season and he has done well each time.
And with Maguire struggling in the late stages of the first leg and looking very shaky in the first half against Forest, it’s time to make the most of Shaw’s versatility again.
Even though it’s not his natural position, Shaw is more reliable at the moment at centre-back than Maguire.
Sevilla showed last week how quickly they can punish any mistakes and Maguire often has one in him. Why take the risk when Shaw offers a better alternative?
LB: Diogo Dalot
Dalot excelled on the other side of defence at the City Ground and, with Shaw in the centre, is Ten Hag’s best option at left-back for this game.
Tyrell Malacia had a horror show in the first leg and is too much of a liability for a game of this nature.
With Shaw offering extra security, Dalot will have the licence to get further forward and should be brimming with confidence after linking up with Antony to score against Forest.
The Brazilian’s experience and know-how in crunch European games will be utterly vital.
He was a bit off the pace in the first leg after his four-match suspension, but was reliable again against Forest, forming a brilliant axis with Fernandes and Christian Eriksen.
Matches like this is what he was signed for.
CM: Christian Eriksen
The Denmark international was not supposed to start against Forest, but Marcel Sabitzer’s injury in the warm-up meant he was called into action at late notice and he did not disappoint.
His passing accuracy could be key to United gaining control of the ball and limiting Sevilla’s opportunities on the break.
CM: Marcel Sabitzer
The Austrian demonstrated his goalscoring touch in the first leg with two smooth finishes from inside the area.
Assuming he has recovered from the knock he sustained in the warm-up against Forest, he can be the most advanced midfielder and lead the team’s attacks on the break.
He was in a furious mood after United let their two-goal slip at Old Trafford, and he can also ensure his team-mates do not let their concentration drop again.
He certainly took his time, but Antony finally showed what he is capable of in a stunning performance against Nottingham Forest.
His goal may have been scrappy, but his assist for Dalot was a thing of beauty.
The challenge now is to do it again and against a stronger opponent.
CF: Anthony Martial
Whisper it quietly, but Martial looks back to full fitness.
His quality has never been in doubt, and despite playing so little this season, he has rarely looked sharper.
His hold-up has been particularly impressive since returning, and it would be little surprise to see him interchanging positions with Sabitzer.
He is a class apart from Wout Weghorst, and as long as he is fit, he should always start ahead of the Dutchman.
LW: Jadon Sancho
The winger may be having another difficult spell but his ability to keep hold of the ball and draw markers could be useful here.
It would be tempting to recall Rashford, who has only just returned to training after his muscle injury against Everton, less than two weeks ago.
Rashford, though, is too important to risk here, and if United are chasing the game late on then he can always come off the bench.
Best to start with Sancho, then, and to give him another vote of confidence.s