Manchester United vs. LASK Linz PREVIEW

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PREVIEW: Manchester United vs. LASK Linz

DATE: Wednesday 5th August 2020 8pm

AGGREGATE SCORE: 5-0

VENUE: Old Trafford

COMPETITION: Europa League

CHANNEL: BT SPORT

OFFICIAL: TBC

 

EUROPA LEAGUE FORM

Manchester United – LWDWW

LASK Linz – WWDWL

 

It’s been 10 days since Manchester United secured Champions League football in expense of Leicester City but United have been in the news most days for the trials and tribulations of the transfer window. Putting Jadon Sancho to one side, Solskjaer’s team host Lask Linz in the relatively irrelevant second leg of the Europa League Last 16.

 

Man United go into this game with a 5-0 aggregate lead after goals from Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Mason Greenwood eased United past Lask in Germany which happened to be ‘The Red Devils’ last game before lockdown. If we are being brutally honest, and all respect to Lask Linz, this tie is done and the only reason we are playing it is to be fair to Linz. After the drama of the Premier League, it will be relaxing watching United in a game dejected of drama, even if the team is far from the strongest.

 

Last Meeting

Last time out in Germany, Manchester United beat Linz 5-0 after goals from literally everyone. Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Mason Greenwood all netted goals as United ended their pre lockdown season in terrific fashion. The tie is over and United are 90 minutes away from the Europa Quarter Finals.

 

Manchester United News

This team will be far from it’s strongest as the tie is complete, so Solskjaer is resting his key players for the quarters. It will be exciting to see a different United team go out and try and win a spot in the team for the rest of the tournament. Can Ighalo push for a starting spot over Martial? Will Dan James cause headaches for Ole? The only two players who aren’t going to feature is Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones who despite the season ending are still on the injury list. Other than that, anyone can start for United.

 

Formation

Just because this team is not going to be the strongest, it doesn’t mean Ole should switch up the formation. 4-3-3 has been the holy grail for United this season and has shone through over any five at the back formation. Stick to what got you to the dance.

VERDICT: 4-3-3

 

Goalkeeper

The goalkeeping situation has evolved throughout the season with questions constantly arising over David De Gea. This is a great game to rest him in favour of the best second choice keeper in the Europa League, Sergio Romero. Having only started one game post lockdown, Romero needs to be put back in the team and this is the perfect game to do that.

VERDICT: Sergio Romero

 

Defence

Another player who hasn’t hit the heights he once was, is Aaron Wan Bissaka. He is the one that has suffered the most from lockdown and hasn’t looked the unstoppable force he did throughout the majority of the season. Despite getting the rest against West Ham, Wan Bissaka has been playing a lot of football since the restart and could do with the rest here. I’m a big fan of Diogo Dalot but I think he’s a lost cause at United now and it’s clear Solskjaer doesn’t favour him. This makes way for a Timothy Fosu Mensah start.

 

I’m not being funny but if I see Harry Maguire’s name on the team sheet, I will not be responsible for my actions. It’s not because he’s a poor defender but he has played EVERY minute of EVERY premier league game and played EVERY minute of EVERY United game since lockdown. I understand he’s the captain, but no one is undroppable and this rest will do Maguire well. Just give the damn man a rest. As for his replacement, Eric Bailly should get a game just to gain that confidence back that he’s been missing in recent games especially since the head injury he sustained against Chelsea.

 

So, who should partner Bailly? Victor Lindelof is another who could do with a rest after the plethora of games he went through at the back end of the Premier League season but I know what you’re thinking, if we rest Lindelof and Maguire with Jones and Tuanzebe injured then who could possibly start? Let me educate you. Teden Mengi is a youth player who has been making shockwaves at youth level as a centre back. Now is a better time than any to start the youngster and break him into the first team in the absence of any other defenders.

 

As for the left back, Luke Shaw is expected to be out for the Europa League finale due to injury so Brandon Williams, who signed a new four-year contract just yesterday, would be the first choice. In terms of who starts this game, I feel Williams has to start just because there is no real alternative to him. Ethan Laird is an up and coming full back but is preferred on the right and so is Dalot so I’d just bite the bullet and start Brandon Williams.

VERDICT: Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Eric Bailly, Teden Mengi, Brandon Williams

 

Midfield

The midfield is an interesting one in this game and should follow the pattern of the rest of the team. Scott Mctominay was showing signs of a great player before lockdown but since the restart he has shown none of those qualities. Lask is a game that can help Scott rediscover that magic he had pre pandemic. Let’s hope we see more of the Scott Mctominay who scored a 40-yard lob against Ederson and not the Scott Mctominay that is easily disposed against a relegation struck Norwich.

 

I might just copy and paste the last paragraph for this entry because Fred is in the exact same boat as the Scotsman. He was a key player pre lockdown but since has yet to hit those high notes. Just like with Scott, this is a game that can help Fred back on those tracks and if he plays well, he might be able to push into the starting XI for the rest of the competition.

 

Juan Mata is a hard one to get around for United because he was once a class player both for Chelsea and in his early days at United, being a key part in the 2017 Europa League winning United side. Now, he is earning a lot of money to warm the bench and its about time United get rid. He’s at that age where a return to Spain to retire would probably be favourably to him. However, that is an issue for the summer, and we have a small matter of a Europa League to get out the way and Juan Mata can play a big role in that. He starts against Lask Linz.

VERDICT: Scott Mctominay, Fred, Juan Mata

 

Forward

Mason Greenwood has burst into the first team in recent months and these sorts of games would have seen Mason start but his importance has sky rocketed and he deserves a rest after his form was a big reason United will be playing Champions League football next season. Jesse Lingard may be on his farewell tour and who are we to deny him another game after the services he has provided to United for years. His pace and energy could cause issues for a slow and lethargic Lask Linz team. He’s on great form after scoring a 98-minute tap in to end his goal contribution drought against Leicester on the final day.

 

In terms of the striker, Martial will be a key player in the latter stages of this tournament so a break could do the Frenchman well. After scoring in the last leg, Odion Ighalo should start. His contract extension takes his tenure at United til next January so could play a part in next season Champions League campaign, but his focus should be leading the line here and adding to his good goal scoring form for United outside of the league.

 

To complete the team, Dan James should return home to his coveted right-hand side where he enjoyed a modicum of success at the start of the season. He has played victim to unnecessary criticism over the season but given the sad passing of his father so close to the season start and being thrown in at the deep end, I reckon he’s done well in his first season in a red shirt. He was always meant to be a squad player but was played a lot in the absence of any alternative. Daniel James is a good asset to have and should use this game to prove himself to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Man United faithful.

VERDICT: Jesse Lingard, Odion Ighalo, Daniel James

LASK Linz Team News

Without being disrespectful, the Lask Linz team has no real notable players in their team and providing they go with the same formation and same team they did last time out; the team is shown below:

Prediction

If would be great if United could emulate the 5-0 and take the tie to double figures but I just don’t see it. The motivation isn’t there for a big win but I still feel this secondary team could get a comfortable win over LASK. I’m going the United classic 3-0.

VERDICT: Manchester United 3-0 LASK Linz

 

What’s your thoughts on the game? Leave them below.

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