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Manchester United face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League at the Allianz Arena – the first match United have played in the Champions League since March 2022 when they were eliminated at the Round of 16 stage by Atlético Madrid.
United are in a period of bad form at present after a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal prior to the international break and then a 3-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford at the weekend, ending their unbeaten run at home. United need a good result in this match.
Bayern are in good form this season, losing only one competitive match in the DFL Supercup, a 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig. But in the season proper, in the Bundesliga, Bayern have won three matches and drawn one. United will need to stand up strongly in this one.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Reguilon;
Pellistri, Fernandes, Rashford;
Andre Onana is going to be under pressure for Untied against Bayern. The Cameroonian goalkeeper have conceded six goals in his last two matches for United and now he comes up against one of the European powerhouses in the Champions League.
Onana has been criticised for the goals he conceded against Brighton on Saturday with many saying ‘David de Gea would have saved that!’ It is not ideal for United who have lost to games in a row and desperately need a victory.
This clash with Bayern in the group stages of the Champions League comes at a very tough time for United who are desperately seeking a victory this season – winning just two of their opening five matches in the Premier League thus far. Is it going to change?
Defenders: Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Reguilon
United’s defence is hit by an injury crisis which is getting worse. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been ruled out for around two months in the last few matches after an injury sustained on Saturday. Luke Shaw is also out of action as is Tyrell Malacia. Harry Maguire misses out too.
Diogo Dalot and Sergio Reguilon look set to keep their places in the fullback roles against Bayern with United in a dire position and needing to open up their Champions League campaign with a positive result. Does this team have the guts to do that though?
In the centre of the defence there are problems too. Raphael Varane is back in training but did not travel to Munich ahead of this match. Therefore, Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez will partner each other in the centre of the defence. Jonny Evans will be on the bench.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
United’s midfield has its own injury crisis ahead of the Bayern match with Mason Mount out of action, although he did return to training on Tuesday – but did not travel to Munich. Sofyan Amrabat is also out of action, but is training out of the main group, so good news there.
Casemiro and Christian Eriksen will probably start this match against Bayern, which is the most likely scenario at this time. Ten Hag has Scott McTominay, Daniel Gore and Hannibal in reserve for this match, unless he changes the formation, like he did against Brighton.
Something will need to change with this squad. There are many professional players who are winners in the squad but winning is not something that has happened in the last two matches with United losing three of the five matches they have played so far this season.
Attacking Midfield: Pellistri, Fernandes, Rashford
There are problems in United’s attacking ranks too with Jadon Sancho out of the squad for the foreseeable future and Antony out because of accusations in his private life. This leaves United with few players in these positions, hence the use of some youth players in the squad.
Facundo Pellistri needs to be starting for United as he has a good head on his shoulders and he puts the effort in with some players slacking. Bruno Fernandes will be seeking to guide United to a change of fortunes against Bayern as United seek a win.
Marcus Rashford should revert to his favoured left-wing position, which could provide results with United pushing in attack against a strong Bayern side. The likes of Omar Forson, Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho could enforce a reaction from United, if needed.
Rasmus Hojlund looks to start his first Champions League match for United against Bayern and he will be seeking to find the back of the net, which has not happened for him in his two appearances for the club so far, well apart from the disallowed goal on Saturday.
The Dane will be ready for this match against one of the favourites for the Champions League crown this season. It may not faze him though as United need to react from their last two defeats and avoid a fourth defeat from their opening six matches this season.
Hojlund is perhaps the most likely to lead the line for United, unless the formation is tweaked ahead this match – which could be the case as it was against Brighton. United need to be strong and battle in the midfield, which is a problem area for United this season.
Substitutes: Bayindir, Heaton, Vitek; Evans; McTominay, Hannibal, Gore; Martial, Garnacho, Forson
Ten Hag named a 21-man squad for this match so will have ten players on the bench, because of United’s injury troubles. United will have three goalkeepers; Altay Bayindir, Tom Heaton and Radek Vivek. Onana will be starting for his club though.
In defence, United have major problems with only Jonny Evans travelling to Munich with no other options in the fullback positions. In the midfield, Scott McTominay, Hannibal and Daniel Gore could all be options from the bench should United need them.
In attack, Anthony Martial, Alejandro Garnacho and Omari Forson will all be available with United likely needing more in attack against Bayern with Ten Hag’s side seeking a victory after back-to-back defeats in the last two Premier League matches.
Written by John Walker