Manchester United will be looking for a solid start to the Champions League with three points against Bayer Leverkusen.
It will not be an easy match against a German side packed with quality talent and a manager who used to mastermind the Liverpool back four in the form of Sami Hyypia.
Here is the side David Moyes may go with.
GK – David De Gea
De Gea didn’t have an awful lot to do in the weekend win against Crystal Palace and there’s no reason he shouldn’t keep his place in the team. De Gea will be important in a variety of situations, as his command of his penalty area and the United back four only improves.
RB – Fabio
Fabio will more than likely continue to fill in at right back. Jonny Evans is an option to step into this position but Fabio has the greater experience playing at full back despite the fact he looked a little raw in the match against Crystal Palace which forced a couple of errors.
CB – Rio Ferdinand
If Ferdinand is fully fit and able to play so soon after the weekend game, he starts. His experience in this sort of match is very important and Moyes is unlikely to want to gamble too much against a very difficult opponent.
CB – Nemanja Vidic
It’s also for that reason that Vidic will also start in the middle of the defence if he’s fully fit and has recovered well. Vidic offers United that strength and leadership in the heart of the defence, which ripples through the spine of the side. He’ll also be crucial in any aerial attacks Leverkusen out together.
LB – Patrice Evra
There is no reason to drop the Frenchman while he’s in fine form. Evra can get forward down the left to provide extra width and despite his lack of pace, he’s defensively competent enough to keep Leverkusen’s right midfielder quiet for the majority of the match.
RM – Antonio Valencia
Valencia has to play because of his pace going forward but more importantly, for the protection he offers Fabio. Valencia has filled in at right back before so he can do a perfectly good job dropping back and doubling up with the Brazilian before moving into the final third.
CM – Michael Carrick
Carrick will play for his effectiveness in terms of stepping in, making interceptions and reading the game well. He plays simple passes under pressure and gets into positions where he’s always offering an outlet to the back four or the attack if they need to go backwards.
CM – Marouane Fellaini
This is a toss up between Fellaini and Tom Cleverley. Considering this is Moyes’ first ever group game in the Champions League, he may prefer the strength and presence offered by Fellaini, a player he’s shown huge trust in over the last couple of seasons.
AM – Wayne Rooney
Expect Rooney to hover at the top of the midfield, just in behind Robin van Persie. Rooney is superb when it comes to roaming that gap between the opposition’s midfield and defence, proving a real threat in terms of his passing skills but also dragging players out of position.
LM – Ashley Young
Young got the nod against Palace and despite the flack he’s been getting for that yellow card, he’ll more than likely start again here. He cuts inside well and with Evra overlapping, it’s a tactic which could be very effective against a side that is likely to adopt a system with a very rigid and organised back four.
ST – Robin van Persie
Van Persie’s confidence will be high after his penalty at the weekend but he looked superb during open play. He was unlucky not to get a goal when he chested down from a Rooney pass before cracking the ball against the bar. Expect to see him withdrawn and protected early if United are controlling the game.
What do you think? Should Evans play in the back four? Should Cleverley or Fellaini start?
image: © nasmac