Manchester United will play their first competitive match this season, and it will be a tough encounter. The Red Devils will take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
We have already detailed a comprehensive preview, but now it’s time to dig a bit deeper on what United might do DURING the game. Without further ado, here are three things to watch during the development of the match.
How Will The Centre Back Duo Will Perform?
One of the first things to watch ahead of the game is how United will play defensively. If we consider that Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are banned while Marcos Rojo is still out, Mourinho did not have a lot to choose from at the back. And with Timothy Fosu-Mensah leaving on loan to Crystal Palace, the depth is even thinner. Due to this, ‘The Special One’ will start Victor Lindelöf and Chris Smalling at CB, with Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian guarding the flanks.
We know Smalling is a proven player at the European level, but it remains to be seen how Lindelöf will play in his competitive debut. He played better as preseason went on, and should be in top form ahead of this game. But will he manage to contain one of the top attacking units in the world? It remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. This will be the Swede’s perfect chance to show why United invested so much in him.
Nemanja Matic Set To Debut
Lindelöf won’t be the only United player making his competitive debut in this game. Barring some unexpected last-minute changes, former Chelsea star Nemanja Matic will play in the starting XI as well. Matic is expected to line-up in central midfield alongside Ander Herrera.
Matic’s presence in midfield should be key for United. Not only because he will likely be the one in charge of covering Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. His presence will also mean Paul Pogba will adopt a free role as a playmaker. He thrived on that position last season, and should be even better now that he has better defensive support behind him. After all, Pogba needs to shine if United want to have any chance to upset the reigning UEFA Champions League title holders.
Marcus Rashford’s Time To Shine
One of the most interesting positional battles in Manchester United this offseason was the attacking line. Romelu Lukaku is the clear starter at central forward, but who plays on the flanks is anyone’s guess. Well, it seems Mourinho has given a clear indication of what he wants to do this season in this game against Los Merengues. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford should start on the right and left wings, respectively.
This means the youngster will get the chance to feature in Europe’s biggest stage. Rashford was one of the team’s key players during the UEFA Europa League last season. And based on the expected lineup, apparently he won the race to be the starting left winger. Some fans could prefer Juan Mata due to his experience. Or maybe some want Anthony Martial’s pace. However, there is no question Rashford has done everything he can to win the job.
Can he maintain it, though? He will have a tough time against Dani Carvajal, arguably one of the best right backs in the world. But Rashford has constantly surpassed expectations, so he is certainly a player to watch in this game.