Michael Carrick will lead Manchester United into Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Villarreal after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal as head coach was confirmed on Sunday morning.
Man United know that a win against the Yellow Submarine will confirm their spot in the knockout round of the competition with a game to spare, but a defeat would leave them vulnerable in Group F.
Villarreal will be looking to use the pressure on Man United to inspire them on Tuesday, and a win for the Yellow Submarine would see them qualify for the knockout round of the competition if Atalanta BC do not overcome Young Boys in Group F’s other contest.
Unai Emery’s side are currently second in the section, level on seven points with their opponents here, while Atalanta sit third in the group on five points ahead of the penultimate round of fixtures.
Villarreal will bring a three-game unbeaten run into Tuesday’s contest, having beaten Young Boys 2-0 in the Champions League before overcoming Getafe and drawing with Celta Vigo in La Liga either side of the international break.
Emery’s side are entering a huge period of matches, facing Barcelona and Sevilla in their next two league games, while their final Group F contest, which could be decisive, comes away at Atalanta.
The Spanish outfit were excellent against Man United in the reverse match at Old Trafford at the end of September but somehow managed to lose 2-1; they have bounced back, though, by overcoming Young Boys home and away to move onto seven points in the section.
Solskjaer’s dismissal by the 20-time English champions was confirmed on Sunday, with the Norwegian unable to survive the 4-1 defeat at Watford in the Premier League; Carrick has been placed in charge for the moment while the club look to appoint an interim boss until the end of the season.
Man United’s Premier League form has been dismal, losing five of their last seven in England’s top flight, including four of their last five against Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford.
Any hopes of a title challenge have been extinguished, with Chelsea 12 points clear of them at the summit, but the Red Devils will still believe that they can finish in the top four this term, while they are on course to reach the knockout round of the Champions League.
The Red Devils lost their section opener against Young Boys in the middle of September but have somehow managed to pick up seven points from their last three against Villarreal and Atalanta, needing late shows in all three fixtures to allow them to move to the top of the group.
Man United will go through to the round of 16 if they win on Tuesday, while a draw would also be enough if Atalanta are held by Young Boys, and there is no question that the team are in need of a confidence boost ahead of the trip to Chelsea in the Premier League on November 28.
Villarreal Champions League form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
Manchester United Champions League form:
Manchester United form (all competitions):
We say: Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United
It will be fascinating to see what type of reaction there is from Man United, who were so poor at Watford on Saturday. A draw would be a decent result for the Red Devils considering that they finish their campaign at home to Young Boys, and we can see the two teams playing out a low-scoring draw here.