United could make the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2014 if they defeat the Spanish side this evening. Despite the recent patchy form of the Red Devils’ opponents, even those with short memories will recall the nervy game against Celta Vigo in last season’s Europa League.
So Mourinho knows he must pick a side capable of building an unassailable advantage as early as possible to try and kill the tie off – and this leads to one big question mark. Will Paul Pogba return to the side?
The French schemer, undoubtedly the most talented player at the club, missed Saturday’s comfortable win over Liverpool through injury but trained yesterday away from media glares.
“I don’t know,” Mourinho admitted when asked if Pogba would play at his press conference yesterday. “We don’t know yet, but he trained a little bit after you left.”
There will be a temptation to name an unchanged side tonight but we feel the manager will make two changes – one in defence, and one in midfield, though that one will not be the one people expect. We feel that Luke Shaw will be given the nod to give Ashley Young a rest, while the experienced Marouane Fellaini could be called in to the side to replace young Scott McTominay. In defence, Eric Bailly should play again if fit, while Chris Smalling – a player we have criticised before on the website – should retain his place after recent improvement.
Elsewhere, we feel Mourinho will stick with Juan Mata and resist the temptation to play Jesse Lingard from the start.
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