Manchester United will look to bounce back after the disappointing defeat in our opening Champions League game as we take on Villarreal on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford. The match kicks off at 20:00PM BST. The game can be watched live in the UK on BT Sport with coverage starting at 19:00 PM.
It was only four months ago that we met the same side in the Europa League final, in which United lost on penalties after drawing 1-1. United began their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Young Boys.
A Tricky September
As we had entered the month of September, the fans would have thought the fixtures we had to contend with would have been fairly comfortable. The last couple of weeks have taken a slight downturn as we have lost the last three of four games across all competitions.
The Red Devils had secured a 4-1 victory against Newcastle United after the international break had finished. However, this followed the nightmare start we made in the Champions League. United did bounce having beaten West Ham 2-1 in the league. Just mere days later, the Hammers got their revenge by knocking us out of the Carabao Cup. We returned to Old Trafford last Saturday but came unstuck when our opponents Aston Villa earned all three points, thanks to an 88th-minute header from Kourtney Hause. We could have rescued a point. However, the usually reliable Bruno Fernandes missed his penalty by blazing it over the bar.
Attention Turns Back To Europe
United turn their attention back to the European stage as we meet Villarreal. We have failed to beat them in any of our previous five matches. All the games have had ended in draws, four of them were goalless. The last match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes in the Europa League Final and Villarreal subsequently securing the victory 11-10 on penalties.
We do not have the best record against Spanish sides in this competition. We have not won any of the previous seven games. The last victory came against Real Sociedad back in October 2013. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær does have the unwanted record of losing more than 50% of his games in charge of the Champions League suffering 7 defeats out of 11 matches.
United has not lost their opening two games in a row during any European competition. If we were to fall short again on Wednesday evening, the task to qualify for the knockout stages will become that much harder.
Manchester United Team News
For United, the defence will see a number of changes to it for this Champions League game. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended following his red card against Young Boys. Whilst captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw came off injured in our 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa at the weekend.
This means that Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles are set to feature in the full-back positions. Victor Lindelof is likely to start in the centre of the defence alongside Raphael Varane. Marcus Rashford and Amad Diallo still remain out and are not expected to return until October.
Scott McTominay and Fred are set to be retained as the midfield duo. Whilst Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Mason Greenwood will be in the attacking roles supporting Ronaldo up top. Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard will have to settle for a place on the bench.
Manchester United’s Predicted Lineup
De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba, and Ronaldo.
Villarreal is unbeaten in their last seven matches across all competitions. They drew 0-0 against Real Madrid in the league at the weekend. In fact, the Spanish side has drawn the first five of their six La Liga games. Another draw came in the opening Champions League match against Atalanta. They had been in front until the 83rd minute when Robin Gosens scored for the Italian side meaning the spoils were shared.
Villarreal is currently unbeaten in their last 16 European matches across both the Europa League and Champions League. Gerard Moreno, who hit 30 goals last season across all the competitions has yet to find any form this season though he has been out of the last few games because of injury. Manager Unai Emery has only won 2 out of the 7 matches against United of which he has been in charge. If he did guide this Villarreal side to victory at Old Trafford, it would put them into a good position within the group.
Villarreal Team News
For our opponents, forward Gerard Moreno will be assessed before the game but is a major doubt due to a muscle injury. Whilst Dani Raba may not feature due to a knock. They will be without winger Samuel Chukwueze as he has not played in any matches so far this season because of a hip problem.
Unai Emery is expected to name the same side that played against Real Madrid in the league at the weekend. This will see Arnaut Danjuma, Paco Alcacer and Yeremi Pino spearhead the Villarreal attack. Francis Coquelin is suspended for this game meaning Manu Trigueros will line up with Etienne Capoue and Dani Parejo in the midfield.
Centre-back Pau Torres who had been linked with a move to United in the summer will start in the defence alongside Raul Albiol.
Manchester United Champions League form: L
Manchester United form (all competitions): WWLWLL
Villarreal Champions League form: D
Villarreal form (all competitions): DDDDWD
We will be hoping to see a response from the United players after two disappointing defeats at Old Trafford. Villarreal will certainly look to make this a difficult match for us. We cannot underestimate the Spanish side given they beat us in the Europa League final only four months ago. A win for us would get our Champions League campaign back on track.
Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal