Manchester United are sweating over the fitness of key players Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford, ahead of their UEFA Champions League game against Barcelona.
Manchester United are set to go head-to-head against La Liga champions Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Having pulled off a miraculous comeback against PSG in the previous round, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will have to do it all over once again, with the Catalans in unstoppable form. However, Manchester United’s cause hasn’t been helped by injuries to several players heading into the big game.
Defender Eric Bailly has been ruled out of the tie by the manager, as has been club captain Antonio Valencia. “Antonio [Valencia] and Eric [Bailly] are definitely out,” Solskjaer revealed in his pre-match press conference.
Neither’s absence is likely to hinder the Norwegian’s plans, who has found a settled back four in Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw, who are all set to line up in front of goalkeeper David de Gea.
The midfield department is where Manchester United have been hit hard as Ander Herrera is ruled out of the contest with an injury, while Nemanja Matic too is a major doubt to be involved on Wednesday night. “We still hope maybe that Nemanja can be ready, but Ander is probably out,” Solskjaer said.
This could pave a way for academy man Scott McTominay to start in the middle of the park. The Scotsman had done very well in the game against PSG and will need to put in a similar performance against Barcelona. He will be partnered by World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba, who needs to step up in a big way after a few underwhelming displays of late.
While Fred and Andreas Pereira are available, Solskjaer is likely to go in with a two-man midfield pivot and hand Jesse Lingard a start in the No. 10 role in order to boost Manchester United’s chances of hitting Barcelona on the break at speed.
Diogo Dalot is set to get the nod on the right flank, in order to provide additional protection to Ashley Young against the runs of Jordi Alba and deliver crosses into the box for his teammates to attack.
The spot on the left wing will be contested for by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who had missed the last game with an ankle injury. Solskjaer, however, sounded hopeful in his presser that the England international should be fit and available for the Barcelona encounter.
“He needed an extra warm-up and hopefully he won’t get a reaction. He joined parts of it at the end, but he couldn’t join in the boxes, which is the fun part of training. Let’s see tomorrow. Hopefully he’ll be ready,” the Manchester United boss said. Should Rashford be fit, he will make it to the starting lineup without a doubt.
Romelu Lukaku should start as the lone striker for Manchester United and look to cause problems to the Barcelona defence with his physicality.