Manchester United will travel away to face Villarreal in the fifth gameweek of the UEFA Champions League. The Red Devils will play their first game since the termination of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following a humiliating 1-4 defeat against Watford.
It goes without saying that Manchester United are enduring another poor start to the campaign despite signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in the summer. They have lost four out of their last five Premier League matches, which is a clear indication of their struggles this campaign.
Manchester United are still maintaining their dominance in the Champions League, sitting at the top of their group. With seven points from four matches, they are tied on points with Villarreal.
Villarreal are unbeaten in their last three games across all competitions and have suffered only one defeat in Europe this season - against Manchester United. However, the Yellow Submarine will pose a threat at home and United's poor form will also boost their chances.
On that note, let's take a look at
Villarreal vs Manchester United Predictions
#5 Donny van de Beek to start the game
Donny van de Beek's career came at a standstill under Solskjaer as the former coach preferred a double pivot in midfield. Fred and Scott McTominay were above him in the pecking order with the Dutch youngster getting only a few minutes on the pitch.
However, Van de Beek's performance against Watford is bound to do justice to his talent in the near future. The midfielder came on as a substitute and scored Manchester United's only goal in their humiliating defeat against Watford.
It was not just the goal but how easily he managed to dominate possession and create chances for his team.
It seems crazy that Van de Beek had played only 15 minutes of football this campaign before his cameo against Watford. With Michael Carrick in charge, he is likely to be in the starting lineup against Villarreal.
#4 Villarreal to take the battle to United's gate
Villarreal have been inconsistent so far this season. They have shown glimpses of brilliance and uninspiring performances, proving an unpredictable team to deal with. The Yellow Submarine will surely take heart from the recent slump Manchester United are enduring and will try to take the lead in Group F.
Despite the absence of Gerard Moreno, Villarreal have enough firepower in their ranks to trouble the Red Devils. The likes of Boulaye Dia, Yeremy Pino, Manu Trigueros and Dani Parejo could find flaws in United's defense and decide the tie in their favor.
Our guess is that Villarreal won't sit back and defend, but take an offensive approach in the game.
#3 Key absentees a concern for Manchester United
Injuries have only piled on the agony for Manchester United in the last few weeks. There are plenty of injury concerns with star players like Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw all being ruled out against Villarreal. Forwards Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood are also not in contention to start the game.
Manchester United might have a lot of firepower but it will be an uphill battle for Carrick in his first game. The Red Devils are severely depleted with key absentees in all departments - attack, midfield and defense. Moreover, the United team will be without any rest after the humiliation against Watford.
The absence of world class players like Pogba, Varane and Cavani is a huge blow to any team. It remains to be seen how Manchester United will line-up under Carrick, with several of their players out of the game.
#2 Villarreal defense to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet
It is never wise to bet against a player like Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese icon is capable of changing the dynamic of a match in the blink of an eye, as was evident against Villarreal at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo's five goals in the 2021-22 Champions League have been crucial for Manchester United, helping them stay at the top of their group.
However, Ronaldo is not getting any younger and he has endured some quiet nights since arriving in Manchester this summer. Villarreal will consider themselves unlucky as they performed well to keep the 36-year old quiet for the majority of their encounter at Old Trafford.
Our guess is that Villarreal will be extra cautious with Ronaldo and will likely keep him from scoring against them.
#1 Manchester United will fail to win the game
Solskjaer had faults of his own but the continued lackluster performances from Manchester United players remains a major concern. With Carrick taking over as interim manager, it will be up to the players to respond positively against Villarreal.
Both teams will be looking to seal a berth in the knockout stages and a win will definitely be a crucial factor. Unai Emery's men were unfortunate at Old Trafford and will have revenge on their minds in the reverse fixture. At their own home, the advantage will be with the La Liga team.
On paper, Manchester United have enough firepower to outmuscle Villarreal. However, considering their recent form, even a draw will be sufficient for the time being. Our guess is that they will fail to win the tie and probably even lose to Villarreal to prolong their misery.
Q. Will Manchester United be able to secure a win against Villarreal?
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