Fri. Dec 4th, 2020

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Manchester United could see their future defence vs RB Leipzig

3 min read

Stick with Lindelof and Maguire?

RB Leipzig have used a back three in three of their five Bundesliga games this term so there is an incentive for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to switch to a defensive troika like he did last week.

Victor Lindelof had his best week in 18 months against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, while Harry Maguire has recovered encouragingly from the trouncing by Tottenham.

Axel Tuanzebe is quicker and, potentially, a more complete defender than his older colleagues but may have to bide his time after neutering Kylian Mbappe last week if Solskjaer sticks with a two.

Who replaces James?

There is more chance of Marcus Rashford not tweeting for 24 hours than Daniel James starting against Leipzig. Solskjaer’s comments about James after the Chelsea draw do not compute with the winger’s form and he was a surprising starter.

Anthony Martial is free to play and certain to return while he serves out the final match of his domestic suspension and Mason Greenwood came on at the weekend. Both could make the XI again in what remains Solskjaer’s favoured attacking trident.


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Recall for Greenwood?

The 19-year-old has not started since the Tottenham game 24 days ago and Solskjaer might be grateful for the mini breather Greenwood has had, having questioned the wisdom of his England call-up in early September.

Juan Mata was unfortunate to come off on Saturday but the right flank could be freshened up by Greenwood, without a goal in the Premier League or Europe since the 1-1 draw with West Ham on July 22.

Spotlight on Upamecano

“Players that they turned down? Matthijs de Ligt,” the former United head of youth recruitment Derek Langley told the MEN in December 2018. “We had God knows how many reports on Matthijs de Ligt. Frenkie de Jong and all these players now are sort of around Europe. Dayot Upamecano, who is now at Red Bull Leipzig, was another.”

Upamecano, 22, is widely expected to leave Leipzig in the summer and United are not only confirmed admirers but in need of an athletic centre half. Marcos Rojo could be released at the end of the season (if he hasn’t been sold by then), Phil Jones’ race is run and Eric Bailly’s future is in doubt.

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United are unbeaten since the international break after wins over Newcastle and PSG, and a draw against Chelsea. Next up is a home game against RB Leipzig, with Edinson Cavani in contention to make his European debut for the club.

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Pogba’s mini revival to continue?

Paul Pogba was instrumental in United’s win at Paris and he was sent on even earlier against Chelsea. Solskjaer spoke positively about the Frenchman after the game and, given Fred and Scott McTominay have lined up in the last three matches, Pogba is maybe due a return.

Leipzig are unbeaten, at the summit of the Bundesliga and underlined their pedigree by reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season. Just like at the Parc des Princes, Solskjaer will have to ensure he respects them enough without paying Leipzig too much respect.

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