Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s men were beaten by Feyenoord in the Netherlands a fortnight ago, and that result put them bottom of Group A after the first matchday.
How strong will Mourinho go?
Despite that, United are still widely expected to get the three points against Zorya on Thursday evening. The more imposing question is who Mourinho will select against the Ukrainian outfit?
The Portuguese coach has said that it is important for his team to win against Zorya, and that could lead to him deploying a strong side. Sergio Romero was handed a chance in goal for last week’s EFL Cup win against Northampton Town but with Mourinho so especially determined for victory, he might be more likely to keep David de Gea between the sticks.
Antonio Valencia has been rested for cup matches this term so it would be a surprise if he is in the team against Zorya, meaning Matteo Darmian and Timothy Fosu-Mensah – both of whom have played just once this term – will contest the right-back position. Neither were overly impressive in their respective appearances, but Mourinho may opt for the former given his greater experience of European competition.
Luke Shaw is ill and could be replaced by Marcos Rojo at left-back – with the Argentine having started both of the Red Devils’ cup matches in that role this term. Eric Bailly and Daley Blind may make up the defence in order to rest Chris Smalling.
Experienced Reds to return in midfield and attack?
Given their impressive showings against Northampton last week, Mourinho may be tempted to hand both Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick a start for this game. Wayne Rooney might also have returned for this game, but with the captain’s apparent back problems, United would probably be better off deploying Juan Mata in the number ten role – especially after his star display against Leicester City at the weekend.
Mourinho has already confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start for United, and it seems that Anthony Martial will also return to the XI after the manager claimed that the Frenchman was “ready for tomorrow."
Making up the three-man attack could be Jesse Lingard. The Englishman returned to the side that played so well against Leicester on Saturday – and his presence in the team against Zorya would ensure there is some continuity from that excellent showing last time out.
Predicted XI: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Blind, Rojo; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Lingard, Mata, Martial, Ibrahimovic.