Manchester United overcame a big challenge when they defeated PSG 2-1 in the Champions League last week. However, their difficult group next pegs them up against RB Leipzig, last year’s semi-finalists.
The German side have often posed challenges and their strong start to this campaign is bound to give Ole Gunnar Solskjær and company a tactical headache.
As such, it is paramount how the Norwegian gaffer chooses to lineup his men, making the most out of the options at his disposal.
Going into the game, it is certainly tempting to field a back-three yet again. However, the logic of the defensive set-up has to be probed. Against PSG with their pacey and skilled attacking line, the back-three served a neutralizing function.
However, against Leipzig, the potential reason for doing so could stem from their gegenpressing. The side has slowly evolved from counter-attacking football and are bound to frustrate United’s traditional set-up by occasionally sitting deep.
As such, a back-three with Luke Shaw as the third centre-back and Alex Telles at full-back achieves a lot. It will free up space for Telles to make the most out of his attacking runs with Shaw providing defensive cover.
Moreover, this will be further ratified in the midfield, if Solskjær opts to break the Scott McTominay-Fred midfield pivot. While the threat posed by the likes of Emil Forsbeg, Angelino, and Yussuf Poulsen is imminent, a physically dominating midfield may not be the answer.
Instead, giving starts to both Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek, with Nemanja Matic providing defensive cover in the opening half could give United the most balanced means to initiate the attack.
With Aaron Wan-Bissaka forming the other flank, the wing-friendly front-two of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could wreak a lot of damage while retaining shape.
Further, having the likes of Paul Pogba and McTominay on the bench will permit an easy means to alter tactics should Leipzig counter effectively.
Goalkeeper: De Gea
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Telles
Midfelders: Matic, de Beek, Fernandes
Forwards: Martial, Rashford