Champions League football is returning to Old Trafford on Wednesday night as Manchester United host RB Leipzig in a group stage encounter.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are looking to build on their excellent opening victory over Paris Saint-Germain when they host Julian Nagelsmann’s well-admired German outfit. Centre-back Dayot Upamecano is one of the key players for Leipzig, though United will be confident of gaining another big result in their quest to reach the knockout stages.
Tuesday afternoon saw Solskjaer put his squad through their paces at their Carrington training ground. Here are four important things we spotted in the United training session:
Van de Beek confidence
Solskjaer and Scott McTominay both dealt with questions about Donny van de Beek’s playing time in the pre-match press conference, and both swatted aside the notion that there was any ‘panic’ or discontent at the Dutchman’s end.
And that appeared to be reflected in training, with Van de Beek looking calm and confident and showing some nice touches in the Rondo section of the training session. He even pulled off a nice nutmeg of Axel Tuanzebe, which prompted laughter among the squad. Fred and Juan Mata also looked good in the rondos too.
Van de Beek looks very comfortable on the ball behind the scenes and that has been reflected in United matches so far. He will hope to replicate that if given the chance to start a Champions League game.
Both Teden Mengi and United’s new Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri were involved in the training session, in a hint that the pair could be named among the substitutes tonight.
UEFA rules allow teams to make up to five substitutions in this year’s Champions League, with a total of 23 players allowed on the teamsheet. It could be the perfect chance to get youngsters used to the matchday experience even if they’re not directly involved.
Both Mengi and Pellistri looked well at home in elite company, however, on the United training ground as they try to impress Solskjaer.
As well as Van de Beek, there have been question marks surrounding Paul Pogba’s role at United following those comments, made at the start of October, about wanting to leave for Real Madrid. The Frenchman has been used off the bench in recent games, to better effect than he had starting games earlier on this season.
But like Van de Beek, Pogba looked happy enough in United training, sharing jokes with Anthony Martial and playing a few lovely weighted passes in the Rondos.
His technical ability can never be doubted if you watch him in training, but Solskjaer will want that translated onto the pitch versus RB Leipzig.
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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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Cavani bedding in
Another element of the training session that was obvious was how Edinson Cavani appears to be getting along with his new teammates.
Despite beginning his time in the UK with two weeks quarantine, due to Covid-19 measures, the former PSG striker is now integrated into the squad having made his debut off the bench versus Chelsea. He was seen chatting to Mata and enjoying the session under Solskjaer.