EXPERT WRITERS PICK THEIR STARTING XIs: Manchester United vs Barcelona


Ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final tonight against FC Barcelona, our site experts have picked their starting XI’s. But do you agree?

Ali Akbar

Since Barcelona have a world-class midfield and like to play a possession game, United should switch to a 4-4-2 diamond in order to avoid being dominated in the middle of the park.

Although Ashley Young was woeful against Wolves last week, Diogo Dalot is still very inexperienced and should not be thrown into a game of this magnitude, so the Englishman should keep his place at right-back.

Scott McTominay was brilliant in the 3-1 win over PSG and was our best performer against Wolves, so it’s about time he becomes United’s starting holding midfielder ahead of Nemanja Matic.

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Jesse Lingard’s movement off the ball and his eye for goal could come in handy against Barcelona. However, Juan Mata is more technically gifted when it comes to his first touch and short passing, so he should be the one who starts behind the strike force of Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

David de Gea

Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

Fred, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

Juan Mata

Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford

Ollie Slack

Despite Manchester United’s shaky defensive display against Wolves, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is starved of quality alternatives. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof have proved over the course of a season and a half that they are the club’s best centre-half pairing and one game shouldn’t change that. The same goes for Ashley Young who has been a reliable servant for a few years.

I agree with Ali too, it would be unfair on Dalot to throw him in at the deep end against the best team in the world.

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With Matic and Ander Herrera both out, United have three options to cover two positions. Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira. The latter has not played much football recently, as opposed to Fred and McTominay who were United’s standout players against Wolves. They both deserve to start alongside Paul Pogba, who is going to have to dramatically improve his game after a shocking performance last Tuesday.

I’m also in agreement with Ali that Juan Mata should start. He played very well against Watford 11 days ago and if United are going to keep possession well, Mata is the perfect player to help with that. Jesse Lingard’s movement in behind Barcelona could also cause them problems and will be key when United transition from defence to attack. Lukaku to come off the bench.

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David de Gea

Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba

Juan Mata

Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford