Match Preview: Villarreal vs Manchester United

Manchester United travel to Spain to take on Villarreal, in the first game following Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s departure from the club.

Michael Carrick will take interim charge of United until a suitable appointment can be found, whether temporary or permanent. The Englishman will be hoping to kickstart his tenure with a much needed three points at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

Form Guide

United will be hoping to bounce back from a disastrous 4-1 defeat away to Watford on Saturday, a loss that sealed Solskjær’s fate. The poor performance at Vicarage Road continued what has been an abysmal run of form; United have won just two games in all competitions since the first fixture against Villarreal at Old Trafford, at the end of September. Carrick will be desperate to help turn this around on Tuesday.

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In the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo rescued a point for United last time out against Atalanta. The Red Devils are currently top of the group, although Villarreal are level on points and Atalanta are two points behind. Tuesday night’s game is a must-win for United, who host BSC Young Boys in the final group game on December 8th.

Villarreal come into this game with mixed form. Their last outing saw them draw 1-1 away to Celta Vigo, and whilst they got all three points at home to Young Boys in their last Champions League match, their form has been somewhat patchy. The Yellow Submarine have won two, drawn two, and lost one in their last five in all competitions. A Villarreal win puts them in a strong position heading into their final game against Atalanta.

Team News

United are without several key players going into Tuesday evening’s game. Paul Pogba is still sidelined due to a knee injury he picked up on France duty, and his countryman Raphaël Varane also continues to recover from the hamstring injury he picked up against Atalanta.

Edinson Cavani is unlikely to feature, as he continues to recover from a tendon issue. ‘El Matador’ is yet to train since the full squad returned from international duty, and there has not been a timeframe given for his return. He was not involved at all against Watford.  

Mason Greenwood tested positive for Covid-19 before the Watford game, meaning he will miss Tuesday’s trip to Spain, and Luke Shaw must also recover from concussion once again. Hopefully, both players have a speedy recovery and are available for selection again soon.

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Villarreal have only one player out injured heading into matchday five of the Champions League. Spaniard Gerard Moreno, who scored in last season’s Europa League final, picked up a hamstring injury in late October. The striker has not been involved in Villarreal’s last five games.

Ones to watch

For United, the obvious player to watch, is, of course, Ronaldo. Aside from the Portugal captain, however, Donny van de Beek will no doubt be desperate to showcase his talent again, following an impressive individual performance last Saturday.

The Dutchman scored his first goal of the season and was impressive going forward. He also made an impact defensively, putting in some crunching tackles on Watford’s players.

Jadon Sancho is another player to watch against Villarreal. The winger has had severely limited opportunities this season but showed what he can do against Watford, with some flair dribbling and some excellent crosses. Should he start in Spain, Sancho will undoubtedly want to grab the opportunity and build on his performance against Watford.

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The home side also has their fair share of quality players. Dani Parejo is a brilliant passer of the ball and picked up an assist in Villarreal’s most recent game. However, their most dangerous player is arguably Arnaut Danjuma.

The winger joined the club from Bournemouth in the most recent summer transfer window and has scored seven goals in all competitions this season. He caused United problems on the left wing at Old Trafford this season with his pace and is certainly one to watch on Tuesday evening.

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Predicted line-up

David de Gea;

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles;

Fred, Donny van de Beek;

Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford;

Cristiano Ronaldo.

Three vital points

Despite the fact United are currently top of Group F, there are only four points that separate the Red Devils from the bottom side Young Boys. Theoretically, all four sides could still qualify, although it would be miraculous if Young Boys were to make it through.

If United win in Spain, it makes the final game of the group stages a lot easier, knowing that Villarreal and Atalanta face off against each other on matchday six.

However, if United lose to the Yellow Submarine, especially by a big margin, United may have to rely on results going their way. This is not at all a situation anyone wants in the slightest, meaning the stakes will be even higher come Tuesday night.

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