Manchester United have one or two big selection dilemmas to ponder as they head into the Europa League final against Villarreal.
Harry Maguire’s likely absence with an ankle injury gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a big decision over who starts alongside Victor Lindelof at centre-back, while the goalkeeping and right-wing positions are up for grabs.
Scrutiny will be on Solskjaer when making these crucial calls ahead of kick off against the Spanish side in Gdansk on Wednesday night. United are looking for their first silverware under the Norwegian, and since they won the Europa league in 2017.
Here, our MEN United writers pick their teams for the final:
David de Gea deserves to start and so does Axel Tuanzebe. Tuanzebe has started in three of the last four games and has been more composed than Eric Bailly. It is a big call – provided Maguire is out – but Bailly’s experience is not a compelling enough case to give him the edge over Tuanzebe.
There are not many debates to be had over this United side but one of the most contested is in goal. After his heroic performance in Rome I think it’s only fair that De Gea starts, but that shouldn’t guarantee his status as No. 1 going into next season. In front of De Gea the decision on who replaces Maguire is a difficult one. Tuanzebe has played his way into contention in the last two weeks but Bailly’s experience just gets him the decision.
Fitness permitting the midfield duo have to be Fred and McTominay. It might be slightly cautious against a team United really should expect to beat, but the fact it’s a final makes their energy and positional diligence worthy attributes. In front of them Fernandes will be tasked with pulling the strings as usual.
Pogba’s influence from a left-wing role has been impressive recently and he has to start the final in that position, with Cavani the obvious pick at centre forward. That leaves Greenwood and Rashford battling it out for the right-wing role. I’d pick Greenwood given his superior form translates to more of a goal threat at the moment, with Rashford primed to make an impact from the bench.
The only real debates are in goal, at centre-back and who starts on the two flanks, with it fairly certain that Fred, McTominay, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Fernandes and Cavani will all start. The central midfield combination won’t be popular with some fans but it’s needed in a final, especially without the security of Maguire at the back.
De Gea earned the right to start the final with his excellent performance in the semi-final second leg against Roma, while Tuanzebe has done enough in the past couple of league games to edge out Eric Bailly.
Greenwood on the right and Pogba on the left is a far more attractive proposition than shoe-horning Rashford onto the right flank and leaving Greenwood on the bench. Rashford can always be an impact sub to come on, if the game needs some attacking impetus in the second half.