Manchester United will be finally back on the field after two weeks of the international break. In the midst of a raging storm where they lost one of their best players of the season through a controversy, if there is one thing that would really enliven their hopes is the return of the French sensation, Paul Pogba.
United will be locking horns with Middlesbrough and will be hoping to go through as this fixture would go a long way in shaping up the tone for the upcoming clash against Burnley in the Premier League on the 9th of February.
With a few injuries on the list, Manchester United still has ample options to try out against the Championship side, raring to post a statement in the most convincing manner. In this story, let us take a quick look at the starting eleven that United would probably be fielding against Middlesbrough.
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
De Gea has definitely been the leading custodian for United but given the fact that Dean’s winter transfer was blocked, Rangnick will be eager to test Henderson’s flair under the woodwork. With less pressure on the rearguard, United would want to keep their successor to the illustrious lineage of goal-keepers alive.
Defenders: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles
Diogo Dalot has evolved himself under the chaperonage of Rangnick and has belted out a few decent displays. The German preceptor, however, will also want AWB to be ready when the bigger games follow. He has been in decent touch but somewhere in the ongoing season, he has blown hot and cold and will be desperate to find his stride.
Harry Maguire was in decent form against West Ham and led from the very front. There have been questions on his lapses but he showed signs of promise and will be hoping to replicate his success against the Hammers in the upcoming tie.
Raphael Varane has shown decency in bits and pieces but has not been the usual unbreachable self that he was at Madrid. Injury has played a denting role in his season so far and yet he will be Rangnick’s first preference, given the fact that both Lindelof and Eric Bailly will be unavailable.
Alex Telles has struck the perfect sync with Ronaldo, given his ability to whip in those scouring crosses. He also has a decent shooting range and that doesn’t really allow the opponent to flap its wings with an additional midfielder.
Midfielder: Jadon Sancho, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Matic, Bruno Fernandes
With Fred doubtful, United will need a defensive mid and who better than the experienced Matic to take care of the screening onus in the midfield?
Jadon Sancho will be handling the duties of the right-wing while Rashford will supervise the left. Pogba will be stitching together a partnership with Matic which means Bruno Fernandes will be bringing in the big guns up front. He will be shouldered with the responsibility of creating for an advancing Rashford or Sancho while conjuring those through balls for Cristiano Ronaldo or Anthony Elanga, whoever Rangnick chooses to play up front.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo / Anthony Elanga
Most likely, Elanga will be getting the nod with Ronaldo to follow only if there is an emergency. The youngster will like to carry on with his decent form and sharpen his skills against an ailing Middlesbrough defence. However, in case United falls behind, it is needless to say that the Portuguese skipper will be summoned to action.