Manchester United are in need of a win as they travel to Turin to face Juventus on Wednesday in a Group H encounter in the Champions League.
Juventus have a perfect record in the 2018-19 Champions League Group Stage thus far. As far as the domestic form is concerned, Massimiliano Allegri will be glad Cristiano Ronaldo is back among the goals, with seven in eleven matches in all competitions so far. The results in Serie A though, are closer than Allegri would like, despite already building a six-point cushion at the top.
For Manchester United, it is all about the road to redemption. After a woeful start to their league campaign, things are coming along nicely, with two narrow wins over Everton and Bournemouth, both of whom have had a decent start this season.
In the Champions League though, United boast just 4 points from 3 games, making the game against Juventus a crunch tie, especially with Valencia set to go up against BSC Young Boys. A win at home for Juventus would guarantee their passage into the knockout phase.
Their previous encounter saw Juventus earn a narrow but dominant 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. But, with several key players in doubt, the fixture is expected to be less one-sided this time around. We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Emre Can, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are all injured and set to sit the Manchester United game out. So is Leonardo Spinazzola, who has not been registered by Juventus in the Champions League squad. Massimiliano Allegri will be glad Daniele Rugani has regained fitness since his absence in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford, especially with Giorgio Chiellini not match-fit.
Another player who is a doubt for the game is Blaise Matuidi, who has been crucial whenever Allegri has decided to go with three in midfield. This could force the manager to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro are almost certain to start as the wide defenders for Juventus on Wednesday. If Chiellini is fit enough to make the starting eleven, he will start alongside Leonardo Bonucci. In midfield, Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic should be the pairing at the base.
Up ahead, we should see Paulo Dybala take up the number 10 role, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line upfront. Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado should complete the lineup on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Dybala, Mandzukic; Ronaldo
While a few of the injury concerns have eased up, Jose Mourinho still has a long list of absentees to deal with. The latest name to be added to the list was Romelu Lukaku, who the manager confirmed had not travelled with the squad due to an injury. Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo remain on the sidelines.
The likes of Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones, Scott McTominay and Antonio Valencia have also not been picked in the starting eleven recently and are lacking match fitness for the Juventus game. The back four should stay the same, with Jose Mourinho finally locking down his best defence as it seems, for now at least.
In midfield, Fred has been a bundle of energy while Paul Pogba seems to be getting more consistent by the day. The two should start. But, Nemanja Matic has looked out of sorts and could be given a rest, with Ander Herrera being given a chance to impress, after a bright cameo during the weekend.
Another player who shined during the weekend coming on a substitute was academy graduate Marcus Rashford. The striker did spurn an easy chance but made up for it in stoppage time slotting the ball in for the winner. With Lukaku injured, he would be looking for a place in the side.
But, so would Alexis Sanchez, who was decent when played through the middle. Ideally, we should see Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez start in a front three, with all of them capable of interchanging positions on the go. Juan Mata though, might be retained to add some creativity to the side. If the Spaniard is selected, it is most likely be at the cost of Marcus Rashford.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Herrera, Pogba; Rashford, Alexis, Martial
1. Manchester United have conceded just once in the Champions League this season, the goal coming in a 1-0 defeat to Juventus at Old Trafford.
2. Juventus have only lost two of their last 24 Champions League games, with neither defeat coming against an English opposition.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored or assisted in each of the last 8 Serie A games for Juventus.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to open his account for Juventus in the Champions League thus far.
5. Paulo Dybala has scored 4 goals in 3 Champions League matches this season so far.
Player to Watch
According to reports, Jose Mourinho will retain Alexis Sanchez upfront. The Chilean did not manage to score during the weekend. But, his contribution was enough for the equaliser and in general, he looked comfortable playing through the middle, a rare sight for Alexis Sanchez in a Manchester United jersey thus far.
United need points on Wednesday and with a misfiring Lukaku on the sidelines, this will be the perfect time for Alexis to hit form and stake a claim to be the preferred man upfront for Manchester United.
Juventus 2-2 Manchester United
This should be more of a contest than the one at Old Trafford. Manchester United have strung together a couple of neat wins in the league and have players returning as well. The squad seems to be really getting behind the manager for the cause and the results are starting to show on the pitch.
Manchester United will have to be wary of their first-half sloppiness though. Unlike other clubs, Juventus will not begrudge them if they are slow off the gates. We expect goals in this encounter. A scoring draw for the two sides.