Jose Mourinho has already confirmed three starters for Manchester United’s opening Champions League group stage tie with FC Basel on Tuesday night.
The United boss said that he will not be rotating his goalkeepers for European competition this season. Sergio Romero was the number one throughout last season’s successful Europa League campaign but Mourinho has said that David de Gea will be retained in goal for this season’s Champions League.
Mourinho told MUTV:
“I do what I think is the best for the team. I don’t like that clear separation of ‘I play in this competition and you play in this competition’. And I think in this moment, David is playing very well and is very confident. I will go with David tomorrow again.”
In front of the goalkeeper, both Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are serving their suspensions. Bailly was sent off in last season’s Europa League semi-final second leg and this will be the final of his three-match ban.
Following our victory over Ajax in that final, Phil Jones was handed a two-game ban for something he apparently said to an official after the match. As a result he sat out of the UEFA Super Cup and will miss our Champions League opener versus the Swiss champions.
Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling will both start in place of the two absentees. Neither of the centre-back pair have tasted a single minute of Premier League action so far this season.
“They are all at the same level so it is no problem at all. Even if Jones and Bailly were not suspended, I would probably play Smalling and Lindelof. For Lindelof, I think the competition is easier to adapt to because he is used to playing in the Champions League.
“Portuguese football is more comparable to the Champions League than the Premier League. I think with him, it will be a choice for me to play him in this match. Smalling is working well so why not use his experience. I trust them. I am not worried at all that Bailly and Jones are out.”
Victor Lindelof was a big money signing from Benfica over the summer but the boss has not used him in any of our opening four Premier League matches, previously saying that the Swedish international needs time to adapt to English football. Today he compared his new signing to Ricardo Carvalho:
“Victor is an intelligent kid, he is very calm and of course he wants to play. You know, we take it step by step. [At Chelsea] we had one of the best central defenders in the Premier League’s last decade, Ricardo Carvalho, and when he arrived from Portugal he was in trouble a little bit to adapt.
“Then he had an amazing career in the Premier League after that and I am sure Victor will be the same. So it is good for him to play in the Champions League and probably he won’t play at the weekend, but he will play again next week in the [Carabao] Cup so matches are coming for him.”
Now we know three of the back five it’s a guessing game to see how else will be named in the starting lineup to face FC Basel.
I suspect Daley Blind will return at left-back after he was rested for the Premier League draw at Stoke on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if Matteo Darmian switches to right-back to give Antonio Valencia a rest. The Ecuadorian has played all four Premier League matches so far this season and was also playing for his country in South America at the start of the month so could be due a break.
In midfield, Ander Herrera started at the weekend whilst Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba have been regulars in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Michael Carrick is also pushing for his first appearance of the season.
In attack, Anthony Martial could come in for Marcus Rashford down the left as both have interchanged very well at the start of the new season. Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are our options down the right, with the Spaniard also an option to play the number 10 role which has been Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s position recently. Romelu Lukaku will start up front.