Manchester United predicted XI vs FC Basel: Defensive decisions for Mourinho

Manchester United predicted XI vs FC Basel: Defensive decisions for Mourinho

Ahead of the Red Devils' first Champions League game in three seasons, Jose Mourinho is forced to shuffle his pack with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones both suspended for the visit of the Swiss champions.

Neil Leverett

Just over three-and-a-half-years since their UEFA Champions League quarter-final exit over at the hands of Bayern Munich in April 2014, Manchester United play their first top-tier European game on Tuesday night versus FC Basel at Old Trafford.

Having lost their domestic 100% record away to Stoke City this past weekend, Jose Mourinho's men turn their attentions to European affairs as Raphaël Wicky's Swiss champions arrive at the league leaders.

With a settled back Red Devils back line, the Portuguese is however forced to shuffle his pack versus RotBlau, with both Eric Bailly suspended following his dismissal in United's Europa League Final win versus versus Ajax back in May, along with Phil Jones who is also banned.

So with the Ivorian absent, who will Mourinho turn to?

Lindelof comes in; Blind may start

With David de Gea in imperious form at the start of the season, the Spaniard is a shoo-in to start between the posts. As is Antonio Valencia it would seem at right-back. The Ecuadorian has remained an attacking menace for opposition defences to manage, and has thrived in his new captaincy role for the club.

With both Jones and Bailly out, Mourinho's centre-back pairing looks certain to be Victor Lindelöf and Chris Smalling.

The former has struggled since his switch from Benfica in the summer, but was an instrumental part in the Eagles' last 16 passage during last season's competition, before a comprehensive 5-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

Mourinho has suggested that the Swede finds European competition 'easier' and as such his comments will be a boost for a player lacking in confidence, in what will be a important game for Lindelõf in his attempts to force his way into the regular starting XI.

The main decision to made will be whether to retain Matteo Darmian after he started this past weekend, or recall Daley Blind to left-back. The Dutchman will probably get the nod.

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Midfield duo to continue

After Saturday's draw, Mourinho could revert to a winning two central-midfield combination of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. Whilst both are guaranteed starters, the addition of Ander Herrera - as at the Bet 365 Stadium - could see a 4-3-3 system retained.

Should Pogba and Matic be the holding two, that system would see four in attack further up the field, and against a rather sluggish defensive duo of Czech Republic skipper Marek Suchý and Adam Lang, the hosts could expose a Basel soft under-belly with ease.

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Spanish switch-up in attack

With the presence of Herrera omitted, Juan Mata may return to slot into a number 10 role, as the Spaniard had during the opening three games prior to the international break.

With Mata central, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will continue on the right wing, drifting into a more central position behind Romelu Lukaku at times.

On the opposite wing, Anthony Martial will be itching to get stuck into Champions League action once more since his time with AS Monaco, however the Frenchman may once more be forced to settle for a place amongst the substitutes following Marcus Rashford's second goal of the campaign versus the Potters.

Lukaku himself scored his fourth in as many league games and in the absence of any realistic alternative, the Belgian will lead the line once more for United, as he plays only his second Champions League game.

Predicted XI: de Gea; Valencia, Lindelöf, Smalling, Blind; Pogba, Matic; Rashford, Mata, Mkhitaryan; Lukaku.