Manchester United will welcome Valencia to Old Trafford for their second UEFA Champions League Group H encounter on Tuesday night.
After what has been a disastrous week, Manchester United will be aiming to get back to winning ways, when they take on Valencia at home in the Champions League.
Manchester United are seated at the top of Group H, having beaten BSC Young Boys in their first European game of the season. However, they find themselves going through testing times, after a run of disappointing results over the past week.
Having failed to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers at home last weekend, Jose Mourinho’s men were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by EFL Championship side Derby County during the midweek on penalties. Things got even worse this past weekend as United were thrashed 3-1 by a struggling West Ham United, following which speculations over Jose Mourinho’s future have intensified severely.
Battling poor form and reports of unrest between the manager and several squad members, the Red Devils will have to rise above all of it and deliver the goods, if they are to alleviate some pressure that they find themselves under.
On the other hand, Valencia come into the game having registered their first win of the new season, when they beat Real Sociedad 1-0 at the weekend. Their return to the Champions League after three years did not start all too well, as they were defeated 2-0 by Juventus at home in their opening encounter.
Despite a difficult start to the new season, Los Che, led by manager Marcelino, will fancy their chances to cause an upset at Old Trafford, considering the turmoil that United are going through at the moment.
Team News & Tactics
Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard are the latest injury concerns for Mourinho and United to contend with heading into Tuesday’s contest against Valencia. The trio, along with centre-back Marcos Rojo, will play no part against the La Liga outfit.
Having fielded a three-man backline with a midfielder in defence against West Ham on Saturday, Mourinho is expected to revert back to the 4-3-3 formation for the upcoming game.
David De Gea will continue between the sticks for the home team, while club captain Antonio Valencia is in line for a return to the starting XI at right-back, after sitting out in the last two games. Luke Shaw will continue on the opposite side of the backline, at the centre of which will be the duo of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof.
Marouane Fellaini has enjoyed a decent run of games for United and is expected to continue at the base of the three-man midfield. Nemanja Matic could find himself left out though, having looked rusty and off pace, with Fred set to come in to inject some dynamism in the middle of the park. Despite all the controversies surrounding him of late, Paul Pogba is likely to be retained in the lineup.
Marcus Rashford was a rare bright spot for United against West Ham and should come into the team in place of Anthony Martial, who failed to make the most of his chance at the weekend. With Lingard out, Juan Mata is likely to get a starting berth against his former club on the right-wing. Romelu Lukaku should spearhead the attack again, but will need to step up in a big way.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Fellaini, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Rashford;
The only injury-enforced absentee for Valencia’s trip to Old Trafford is forward Santi Mina, who has missed their last two games with a knee injury. Otherwise, Marcelino has a full-strength squad at his disposal. They have mostly operated with a 4-4-2 shape this season and are unlikely to change it up on Tuesday.
29-year old Neto is expected to continue between the sticks for Los Che at Old Trafford. Jose Gaya is set to return at left-back, after being rested for the league game at the weekend, along with centre-back Jeison Murillo, while former Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista is expected to hold onto his spot. At right-back Ruben Vezo and Cristiano Piccini will battle for a spot, with the former likely to get the nod.
Club captain Dani Parejo will take up one of the central midfield spots and look to provide the creativity and drive in the attacking half. Geoffrey Kondogbia is likely to take up the second slot to provide the legs and the physical presence in the engine room for the visitors.
Carlos Soler has been the preferred option out on the right-flank and he should be retained for the trip to England, while Portuguese international Goncalo Guedes is line to return to the team on the left-side, in place of former Real Madrid man Denis Cheryshev.
Upfront, star striker Rodrigo Moreno is set to return to the starting XI after being left out for the weekend encounter. Partnering him will be Frenchman Kevin Gameiro, who scored the only goal against Sociedad, meaning Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi will miss out.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Neto; Vezo, Gabriel, Murillo, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Rodrigo, Gameiro;
- Manchester United and Valencia have faced each on eight occasions previously with the Red Devils winning two of those games, while the La Liga side have come out on top just once.
- The last time these two teams clashed in a competitive game was eight years ago in 2010, in a Champions League group tie at Old Trafford. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Manchester United have not lost back-to-back home Champions League games since March 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge.
- Valencia have lost all of their last four Champions League fixtures – their worst ever streak in the competition. Only two Spanish clubs have ever lost 5+ consecutive games in the history of the competition – Real Sociedad (five in October 2013) and Villarreal (seven in December 2011).
- Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has never previously lost to Valencia in 10 clashes in all competitions (W6, D4), including a 3-2 aggregate victory in the quarter-finals of the 2006-07 Champions League while managing Chelsea.
Player to watch
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
The French midfielder has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late. From his stand-off with the manager in training last week, to his latest comments in the media post the West Ham disaster, Pogba finds himself at the centre of the storm that is brewing at Old Trafford.
His performance against the Hammers at the weekend left a lot to be desired. Yet, there is no taking away the fact that when he gets going he can be a bonafide match-winner for Manchester United. The World Cup winner has been directly involved in four of United’s last six Champions League goals (2 goals, 2 assists), including all three this season (2 goals, 1 assist).
Will Pogba repeat his heroics from the game against BSC Young Boys or will it be another disinterested display like the one against West Ham? Either way, it will have a huge impact on the outcome of the match.
Manchester United 1-1 Valencia
Manchester United find themselves under immense pressure after equalling their worst ever start to a season since the 1989-90 campaign, following the defeat to West Ham United. And manager Mourinho’s job is under serious threat heading into Tuesday’s encounter.
Valencia too haven’t been in the best of form and managed their first win of the term this weekend. However, considering the morale within the United camp at the moment, they will back themselves to have a go at the twenty-time English champions.
In three of their four visits to Old Trafford in the past, Los Che have managed to come away with a point. And that will once again be the most likely outcome on Tuesday night.