Down The Wings

Manchester United Fan Blog

Champions League Preview: Villarreal vs Manchester United

Villarreal vs Manchester United | Champions League Group Stage | Estadio de la Ceramica | KO 17:45 | BT Sport

Manchester United finally pulled the plug on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the club on Sunday, following the club’s humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford the day before.

They have appointed Michael Carrick in temporary charge before they eventually select an interim manager who would lead United until the end of the season, where the permanent choice would take over.

There have been many names touted to be the next boss, but for now, Carrick takes the reigns, starting on Tuesday evening, where United travel to Spain to face Unai Emery’s Villarreal in a must-win match in the UEFA Champions League.

Carrick, who was a highly influential part of Solskjaer’s coaching staff, is likely to implement similar tactics to the Norwegian, especially considering the fact that he will have has less than 48 hours as the manager, before the game in Spain, so will not have time to change much.

How do Manchester United look?

There are doubts over the availability of a number of players going into this clash for United.

Luke Shaw was substituted off with a concussion for the second game in a row at the weekend, so may be out due to protocols, whilst fellow defender Raphael Varane is certainly out as he continues his recovery from his recent injury.

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Mason Greenwood is also definitely unavailable due to testing positive for COVID-19 before the weekend’s clash against Watford, and Edinson Cavani is an extreme doubt due to his ongoing issues with fitness and injury.

Paul Pogba remains out injured until the new year.

Donny Van de Beek came on at half-time at the weekend, scored what eventually turned out to be the final goal of the Solskjaer reign, and impressed with his work rate and ability in midfield.

Solskjaer clearly did not fancy the Dutchman as a player for United, so it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues now that Carrick has temporary control of the team, or whether it simply was the previous boss’ choice to leave him out.

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Similarly, Jadon Sancho has not featured as much as he would have hoped this season, and may now get a chance to prove himself under Carrick before another manager comes in.

The formation, tactics, and style of play will likely be the same as under Solskjaer on Tuesday, so sweeping changes, and a change in fortune, should not be expected yet, as United enter the festive fixtures.

Opposition: Villarreal

Unai Emery, in the two matches United have played against his Villarreal side, has proven hard to beat, and will likely put up another extremely tough test for The Reds on Tuesday evening.

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A 95th minute Cristiano Ronaldo winner was all that stopped the Spaniards from taking a point away from Old Trafford in the reverse fixture, but the goal ultimately means that a win in Spain would put United through to the knockout phase, due to their head-to-head record.

They are likely to be without their main striker, Gerard Moreno, and Serge Aurier is ineligible but other than that they have a clean bill of health.

Key Stats

Villarreal have won just five of their eighteen matches in all competitions this season, whilst United have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions.

Prediction

Villareal 1-2 Manchester United.

Match Preview Writer

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