Ralf Rangnick is expected to stick with a 4-3-3 formation for his Manchester United side’s home FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough tomorrow evening.
A home cup tie against a lower league side, with a Premier League match against Burnley coming up on Tuesday, could mean that the interim boss is tempted to field a weakened side. However, the cup may offer United their most realistic chance of silverware this season so it seems more likely that he will pick his strongest XI, or close to it.
Luke Shaw’s recent hamstring problems could mean that Alex Telles continues at left back, but an early Wednesday morning game for Brazil followed by a long journey home renders it unlikely that the former Porto man will be pushed into action.
We therefore think that if Aaron Wan-Bissaka has recovered from illness, he could feature at right back with Diogo Dalot switching to left back to cover.
The centre back pairing will probably come down to two of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof, although Eric Bailly has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations and Phil Jones turned down a loan move to Bordeaux. It is expected that Maguire and Varane will get the nod even though the Lindelof/Varane partnership had looked very promising prior to the Swede missing the last game on compassionate leave following a home invasion.
In midfield, Fred was an unused substitute in Brazil’s 4-0 victory over Paraguay yesterday but could also be rested due to the journey involved. With Donny van de Beek now at Everton on loan, this could mean Nemanja Matic is drafted in alongside Scott McTominay, with Bruno Fernandes in front of them in that midfield three.
Another option is Paul Pogba, who has been back in training for a couple of weeks now, but it is more likely he will be eased back in and given 30 minutes or so off the bench.
Up front, Edinson Cavani will almost certainly not start after playing for Uruguay in their own World Cup qualifier. Mason Greenwood is unavailable until further notice and both Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo have left on loan to Sevilla and Rangers, respectively.
Cristiano Ronaldo is therefore expected to start up top, with Jadon Sancho on the right wing and either Marcus Rashford or Anthony Elanga on the left. Elanga has impressed of late and could well continue, but Rashford has scored two from the bench and could get the nod at this stage.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for the match: