Manchester United will be looking to start their Europa League campaign in style when they face Real Sociedad in Turin on Thursday evening.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side travel to Italy after the first-leg of their round of 32 tie was relocated due to strict travel restrictions in Spain.
United are winless in their last nine European matches against Spanish opposition (D3 L6) since a 1-0 win over Celta de Vigo in the 2016/17 Europa League semi-final.
In terms of early team news, Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek have been ruled out through injury, while Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay are doubtful and Paul Pogba remains sidelined.
Here is how MEN writers think United should line up.
The ‘neutral’ venue of Turin and United’s nous at Europa League level should help them just about edge these ties but it is tricky for Solskjaer to master rotation with respect, given Real Sociedad are unlikely to ‘rest’ as many, if any, of their regulars.
Henderson, Bailly and Telles are relatively safe starters. Fred and Matic is a secure axis to counter Sociedad’s forwards and Mata’s return is well-timed with Van de Beek missing his chance.
Greenwood has to lead the line tonight but should be supported by quality forwards. United do not have the most testing of fixtures against Newcastle on Sunday.
Henderson, Bailly and Telles are all shoo-ins, given that they need game-time to push for regular first team spots. Aaron Wan-Bissaka probably needs a rest at right-back, while Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes could use a break as well.
The midfield options are a bit light without Pogba, Van de Beek and (possibly) McTominay, but Fred and Nemanja Matic should do the job between them, with Juan Mata returning to his favourite No.10 role.
It is worth giving Amad a start, with maybe Shola Shoretire coming off the bench and Daniel James in need of a start on his favoured left flank.
Finally, Mason Greenwood deserves a shot through the middle to continue his recent renaissance and grab a goal or two that he needs.
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Manchester United’s European campaign resumes this week as they travel to Turin to take on Real Sociedad in the first leg of the Europa League last 32.
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Given that this is a Europa League tie there is definitely argument for some change against Sociedad – but United fans are in dreamland if they think wholesale changes will be made.
Henderson deserves to start in goal, but Maguire and Wan-Bissaka are both undroppable in defence. Bailly and Telles are logical switches, although it might be a case of either or given the pressure to record a positive result.
The midfield selection depends on McTominay’s late fitness test, but with Pogba and Van de Beek out it seems United will have to go with a rather uninspiring axis of Matic and Fred. Greenwood’s press-conference appearance all but confirmed his starting role with Mata and Rashford the only two realistic options on the wings. Amad should make his debut from the bench, but it might be too soon for a start.