Predicted Manchester United XI v Atalanta

Manchester United will want to bounced back from the weekend’s defeat in convincing fashion against Atalanta tonight.

Once again this home fixture is a must-win game, with the margin for error reduced by United’s Champions League opening game defeat to Young Boys.

A victory over Atalanta could take United top of the group, and three points look essential ahead of away games against the Italians and then Villarreal.

Team news: Manchester United have a nearly full fit squad to select from.

Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial are the key absentees. Fred and Edinson Cavani are both available.


Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Will there be a formation change?

A change of formation is very possible, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer indicating he will be reassessing everything after the defeat to Leicester. Earlier this week we took a look at how Solskjaer could line his side up with a 3-5-2 formation, as he has done previously in big games.

Most likely, United will stick with Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, while making a number of big calls to sacrifice a handful of big names in favour of a grittier starting XI.

With that in mind, expect Fred and Scott McTominay to start in central midfield for United.

Working backwards from here, Solskjaer will likely stick by Harry Maguire to partner Victor Lindelof. The England captain has to be sharper than he was at the weekend, and if there are signs he is off the pace, Solskjaer has to act and take him off.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is available after his extra game suspension was repealed, and Luke Shaw will probably get the nod at left-back despite Alex Telles’ impressive showing in the previous Champions League fixture.

The big calls come further up the field, starting with Marcus Rashford on the left.

Big decisions

United deliberately did not throw Rashford straight in against Leicester, likely with a view to him starting this game. His goal was a surefire indication he is ready.

This means no Paul Pogba, and Mason Greenwood may find himself left out for this one too.

And rather than have Jadon Sancho replace him, it could be Jesse Lingard playing on the right but drifting inside.

His hard work off the ball and quality in possession is an ideal complement for Ronaldo and Lingard needs a proper chance.

While Lingard will play on the right and add width, he could also move inside alongside Fernandes and help link the midfield, allowing Rashford to get up front alongside Ronaldo to stop him getting isolated.

United can flit between this formation throughout the game, and it will benefit Ronaldo greatly going up against Atalanta’s back three.

Danger from the bench

Edinson Cavani is United’s trump card but fitting him in will be difficult, while also keeping Ronaldo in the starting line-up.

Along with Jadon Sancho he will probably have to settle for a place on the bench, also with Paul Pogba.

Donny van de Beek is United’s wildcard and the element of surprise could be a case to start him ahead of Fred for this fixture. It’s less likely though, considering the lack of usage for the Dutchman this season.

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