Manchester United head to Moldova on Thursday night looking to get their Europa League campaign on track after defeat to Real Sociedad.
Erik ten Hag’s side were unable to transfer their excellent run of league form to the Europa League and now find themselves playing catch up in order to qualify for the knockout rounds.
A trip to Sheriff Tiraspol will be no easy task for Ten Hag’s men – who will view the Europa League as a secondary route to Champions League football, should they fail to qualify through the top-flight.
Some members of the squad know what it takes to win the gruelling competition and were part of Jose Mourinho’s side who lifted the trophy in Stockholm five-years ago.
Alternatively, Sheriff know how to topple a European giant after their heroic 2-1 victory at Real Madrid last September.
United’s defeat at home to Real Sociedad last Thursday halted the club’s run of four-consecutive wins, but it also coincided with Ten Hag deviating from his winning line-up, in order to utilise other members of his squad.
The Red Devils were both abject and unlucky at times against the La Liga side and a repeat of Thursday’s scoreline would pile the pressure on a team that is among the favourites to lift the trophy in Budapest next May.
With United’s Premier League clash at home to Leeds on Sunday postponed, Ten Hag could look to play a stronger side than he would have previously anticipated.
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The club’s next fixture will not be until after the international break when Manchester City visit Old Trafford on October 2.
David de Gea is likely to continue in goal despite the arrival of Martin Dubravka from Newcastle United.
Ten Hag looks set to banish Harry Maguire to the bench yet again following his cameo appearance against Sociedad.
Victor Lindelof should also make way to allow first-choice pairing Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane minutes, with their last outing coming against Arsenal on September 4.
A rejuvenated Diogo Dalot is set to keep his place at right-back ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Tyrell Malacia looks set to keep his place at left-back ahead of Luke Shaw.
In-form Scott McTominay was rested last week and may have to make way once again for Casemiro for the trip to Moldova. Christian Eriksen will complete the central midfield pairing.
Ten Hag’s biggest dilemma is which three players to choose in front of his midfield duo.
The Dutchman is likely to stick with Cristiano Ronaldo up top with the Portuguese star lacking minutes after being dropped following United’s 4-0 defeat at Brentford last month.
With Ronaldo spearheading the Red Devils’ attack, Ten Hag has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with Antony, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Elanga all vying for a start.
Fernandes is likely to drop in behind Ronaldo with Sancho and Antony either side of the vice captain as United go in search of their first group win.
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