Harry Maguire has been the name on every Manchester United fan’s mind as the Red Devils prepare to face Villarreal in the Europa League Final on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old was on crutches in the last two weeks but has been at least showing signs of being available to play in the match, though he ran but did not train Tuesday in Gdansk.
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Anthony Martial and Phil Jones are out. How about Maguire?
“We’re hoping he can be available but the main focus is the players that are out there fit to enjoy the session today and enjoy the game tomorrow,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Maguire only missed five matches this season before suffering an ankle injury against Aston Villa on May 9.
How has United paired its center backs without Maguire?
Man United 1-2 Leicester: Eric Bailly – Axel Tuanzebe
Man United 2-4 Liverpool: Victor Lindelof – Eric Bailly
Man United 1-1 Fulham: Axel Tuanzebe – Victor Lindelof
Wolves 1-2 Man United: Eric Bailly – Axel Tuanzebe
Does that tell us anything?
You could judge from Bailly and Tuanzebe playing thrice each that they were getting extended chances to impress while Victor Lindelof’s back-to-back starts followed by
being backed in bubble wrap rested at Wolves is a sign that he’s definitely in the mix.
There are other good thoughts, but we like this inference the best.
How does Villarreal attack and defend?
Unai Emery switches things up quite a bit, but he likes a 4-4-2 more than half of the time and has used it against high-powered teams like Real Madrid, Sevilla, Arsenal, and Barcelona in recent weeks.
But he was a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 guy often with Arsenal, including in a 1-1 draw with Man United on Sept. 30, 2019.
The previous year he used a 3-4-2-1 twice versus United and a 4-2-3-1 another time.
Carlos Bacca and Gerard Moreno lead the strike force, a savvy pair, but the team is sound at the back with Pau Torres and very strong in the center of the park with Manu Trigueros and Dani Parejo.
So how will United lineup versus Villarreal?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has started in a 4-2-3-1, more or less, in every match since losing 2-0 to Man City in the League Cup Final.
Does he seem like a guy who will change his stripes in the biggest game of his managerial career?
I think Solskjaer is going with the same lineup, almost to a letter (sans Maguire), that he used in a 6-2 defeat of Roma at Old Trafford on April 29.
Wan-Bissaka — Bailly — Lindelof — Shaw
Fred — McTominay
Rashford — Fernandes — Pogba