Manchester United predicted XI against CSKA Moscow: Red Devils target victory to top Champions League group

Manchester United predicted XI against CSKA Moscow: Red Devils target victory to top Champions League group

José Mourinho’s side need a point to guarantee top spot in Group A but only an unlikely victory by four goals or more for the Russian side would block the Red Devils’ path to the last 16

Matthew Brown

Manchester United welcome CSKA Moscow to Old Trafford on Tuesday evening for their final match of the Champions League group stages.

José Mourinho’s team are in a good position, sitting top of Group A, three points ahead of both FC Basel and the Russian outfit, but their passage to the last 16 of the European competition is not yet sealed.


Romero, Darmian to come into side

The 54-year-old manager, a two-time winner of the tournament with FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, may have to deploy a stronger side than he may have liked, with Moscow sure to give it their all in order to seal an unlikely spot in the last 16 draw ahead of United.

Sergio Romero has already been confirmed as the starting goalkeeper by Mourinho in his pre-match press conference, although his defence should have more of a familiar look to it.

It should still be a strong side which faces Moscow, but the visit of Manchester City on Sunday will remain in the back of Mourinho’s mind, and he will perhaps want to rest some of his more important players. Antonio Valencia has been United’s first choice right-back by a distance since the Portuguese took charge last May and could be rested while Matteo Darmian deputises.

Ashley Young has been similarly important in the full-back position on the opposite flank, but given his comparative lack of football earlier in the season, the 32-year-old is more likely to retain his place in the defence.

Mourinho has recently deployed a back three system and with only a point needed in this game, he will likely favour that formation again with his side set out not to lose. Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelöf and Marcos Rojo, the trio who have started the last two games, could feature again here.


Herrera and Rashford make it four changes for United

In midfield, Paul Pogba is another confirmed starter, as he's unavailable for the imminent Manchester Derby after receiving a red card in Saturday's win against Arsenal, and he will likely be partnered by Ander Herrera with Nemanja Matić unavailable due to injury.

That leaves three attacking positions free in the United side, and one of those should be occupied by Marcus Rashford. The young Englishman has only started one of the last four matches and could come in for Jesse Lingard – it wouldn’t be a great surprise if Mourinho has earmarked a starting berth for him against City, given his fantastic recent form.

This could be a good time for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to return, with no great pressure to perform on the Armenian in this game, although it appears more likely that Anthony Martial will keep his spot. Perhaps the former could instead be reintroduced from the bench, after being left out of the last two matchday squads altogether.

And with Zlatan Ibrahimović confirmed as unfit, Romelu Lukaku will complete the United line-up as the team’s main striker – again a good opportunity for one of the side’s main attacking threats from earlier in the campaign to regain some form.

Predicted XI: Romero; Lindelöf, Smalling, Rojo; Darmian, Pogba, Herrera, Young; Rashford, Lukaku, Martial.