3 Ways Manchester United Could Line-up in Midfield if Casemiro Starts vs Real Sociedad
Man United will switch their focus to the start of their Europa League campaign on Thursday evening.
Casemiro will be targeting his first start for Manchester United against Real Sociedad.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag could be tempted to mix things up when his side kicks-off their their Europa League campaign against Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.
United, who reached the final of this competition last year, losing to Villarreal on penalties, will welcome the Spanish outfit to M16 with confidence flowing through their veins. Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal sealed a fourth successive victory and Ten Hag will be keen to keep that run going in Europe.
The Reds are one of the favourites to win the Europa League this season and have been handed a favourable looking group, being pitted up against Sociedad, Sheriff and Omonia Nicosia in Group E. It means that they will be expected to make it out of the group stage with minimal fuss.
With the fixtures, certainly on paper, appearing favourable, the Europa League does present Ten Hag with the opportunity to rotate his pack and award opportunities to some players who have not been playing as often as they would like, while resting others who have played regularly in recent weeks. One of the most congested areas within the squad is in midfield, with Ten Hag spoilt for choice with options.
Therefore, it is in that area where he has the most flexibility to mix things up. Casemiro, signed from Real Madrid last month, is still awaiting his first start for United and will be determined to feature from the off against Sociedad. With that in mind, MEN Sport has taken a close look at three different midfield combinations, featuring the Brazilian, Ten Hag could deploy against Sociedad, presuming he makes the decision to mix things up.
Casemiro, Fred and Eriksen
Starting Casemiro at the base of the midfield means that Ten Hag will turn to two forward-thinking players to line up alongside him. Fred has not started since the 4-0 defeat to Brentford and will be determined to return to the starting line-up.
That means the former Shakhtar Donetsk man can slot in alongside Casemiro and play a similar role to what Christian Eriksen has done in the last four matches, where he is not the most advanced midfielder of the trio but is expected to get forward and lend support. Fred, who was one of United’s best players in the second half of last season under Ralf Rangnick, is capable of fulfilling a box-to-box type role.
That means Eriksen could push forward and replace Fernandes in the No.10 role. Although the Dane has excelled in the free-roaming No.8 position, the visit of Sociedad could present Ten Hag with the opportunity to trial him in his most recognised position.
How Manchester United could line-up in midfield with Casemiro, Fred and Christian Eriksen.
Casemiro, Van de Beek, Fernandes
Again, starting with Casemiro at the base of the midfield, Ten Hag could partner the Brazilian with two progressive midfielders, whose main duties are to get forward and support the attackers. Donny van de Beek, should he overcome the injury problem that forced him to miss the win over Arsenal, could replace Eriksen and slot into the No.8 berth.
The Dutchman, who was expected to become a regular fixture in Ten Hag’s plans after being reunited with his fellow countryman during the summer, is yet to start a match this season and will be looking at the Europa League as an opportunity to impress. Ten Hag knows Van de Beek inside out and admitted during the tour of Australia in July that he can both sit deep and operate in advanced positions.
Fernandes, should he keep his place, will continue as the most advanced midfielder in the system, being supported by Van de Beek from behind. The Portuguese midfielder has been excellent in the last few matches and will be keen to keep his personal momentum going.
How Manchester United could line-up in midfield with Casemiro, Donny van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes.
Casemiro, Fred, Van de Beek
If Ten Hag wants to give both Eriksen and Fernandes a deserved rest, this is the best way forward. With Casemiro anchoring the midfield, Fred can slot into the No.8 position and replace Eriksen.
Fred is capable of both attacking and defending, as proven last season, meaning he has the ability to slot into that role, particularly when someone of Casemiro’s defensive nous is alongside him. Van de Beek, although he has rarely been given the chance to operate as an out-and-out No.10 since joining United, was familiar with the role under Ten Hag at Ajax.