Manchester United are preparing for their Champions League second round group stage match. The place is Moscow. The opponent is CSKA. An away match in Russia’s capital has never been very pleasant. After all, we have seen Liverpool stumble there on Tuesday night against Spartak Moscow.
Yet Manchester United have travelled to Europe’s most populated capital to show intent. Imposing themselves early into the season could mean more fear in the eyes of opponents. That is why a 1-1 draw, like the one Liverpool recorded, will not be anywhere near enough.
Even though Manchester United could make a strong case of being satisfied with a single point from this match. It would be mostly due to team selection problems. However, Jose Mourinho is trying to build a formidable team and such excuses are not good enough anymore.
New Solutions For Manchester United
Manchester United will have to find new solutions if they are to win on Wednesday night. Five first team players are not on Mourinho’s disposal and other players will have to step in. Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones will be missing from the back four, while Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are all out due to injury problems. The midfield now seems a lot poorer.
Mourinho has talked about other players coming in, maybe even Axel Tuanzebe at right back. Yet, the most important thing for Manchester United right now would be to coast past CSKA with so many problems. It would confirm that squad depth is at a high level and players would be less worried. The team would show against a tricky opponent they do not have to be over-reliant on small crux of the team.
Younger Guns Stepping Up
If Axel Tuanzebe steps in on Wednesday night, he would be in a starting XI together with either Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial. Young player like him would definitely relish an opportunity like this one and potential good performance would show the manager he can count on his youngsters.
However, that does not necessarily need to happen. Tuanzebe will likely be on the bench, while Rashford or Martial will start on the left wing. An away Champions League match is not really an ideal time to rotate more in order to facilitate youngsters. Yet, either Rashford or Martial will have a case to make for themselves. Swift counter-attacks might just be the way to beat CSKA.
A Different Kind Of Confidence
A win in Moscow would definitely breathe a different kind of confidence into the team. It would not be just another win. This is not League Cup and this is not Old Trafford. The rival is a well-respected side with as many points in the competition so far. A win in these circumstances would make players realise their worth.
Especially if a win was to be a comfortable one. Ander Herrera, who could start next to Nemanja Matic, could make him see how much more he can do. It is a (probably coincidental) fact Manchester United looked poorer when he was on the pitch, against Stoke and Southampton.
Some other players might just show themselves and Mourinho sitting on the bench is not enough anymore. Nights like these in places far from home, like Moscow is, can make you grow up little bit more. After all, a boost is always a good thing.