Manchester United are in Russia to face CSKA Moscow in our second group stage match of this season’s Champions League.
Whilst we were comfortable 3-0 winners at home to FC Basel a fortnight ago, the Russian Premier League runners-up were 2-1 winners away to Benfica.
Jose Mourinho was without his first-choice centre-back pairing for our opener and has a number of absentees for the trip to the Russian capital.
Here’s how I think we’ll line up:
David de Gea
The boss confirmed before our opening game that he will not be rotating at goalkeeper this season as he did in the Europa League last year. David de Gea had to make two smart saves versus the Swiss champions two weeks ago and don’t be surprised if CSKA Moscow offer more threat this evening.
Antonio Valencia may get another rest at right-back so Ashley Young could start here again where he performed so well in our opener and has been a starter in both of our Premier League games since. Our opponents could line up in a 3-4-3 formation so Young may find success going forward but needs to be very careful at the back.
Back for a three-game suspension in Europe, Eric Bailly will start in the centre of our defence looking to keep the likes of Vitinho quiet. The Ivorian is certainly capable of that.
Phil Jones hasn’t travelled so his fellow England international centre-back will likely get the nod over Victor Lindelof to partner Eric Bailly. Chris Smalling has been excellent in our cup games this season and I am confident he can perform when called upon in Russia.
Our regular starter at the beginning of the season, Daley Blind has found himself backup to Ashley Young in recent weeks. The Dutch international should get a start in this one and likely up against Alan Dzagoev. A star name from Euro 2012 the Russian attacking midfielder hasn’t gone onto huge things as was predicted back then.
A rock in the centre of our midfield, Nemanja Matic should be in for a busy game as CSKA Moscow line up with a lot of central players. Don’t expect the Serbian to venture too far forward in this game because the hosts offer a good attacking threat on the break.
Both Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba are sidelined and Michael Carrick hasn’t joined us in Russia either, so Ander Herrera looks certain to partner Nemanja Matic in centre midfield with 20-year-old Scott McTominay the only other option here. The Spaniard deserves his start in a big game after some high energy performances in his cameo roles this season. I think he’ll be a key part of tonight’s fixture.
Jose Mourinho is a big fan of Jesse Lingard and I think the winger will get a start in Russia. His pace and movement off the ball could be a real problem for the ageing Berezutski brothers in Viktor Goncharenko’s defence.
I am expecting a big game from our number 10 this evening as he picks gaps in between the defence and midfield. I really think Henrikh Kmhitaryan can be our match winner with his creativity and goal threat from this position against a slow defence.
Pace on both wings should prevent CSKA Moscow’s two wingbacks from pushing forward too frequently. Not only does Anthony Martial have pace but he is strong and a good dribbler so you can be sure he’s going to cut inside to test the back three.
The Russian side are pretty good in the air at the back but whether they will be able to match up to the power of Romelu Lukaku remains to be seen. He’s averaging a goal a game so far.