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Predicted XI vs Leeds United: Crucial decision to be made at centre-back

Raphael Varane and Nemanja Matic return but Edinson Cavani still unavailable

by Red Billy

Manchester United will welcome Raphael Varane and Nemanja Matic back to tomorrow’s matchday squad for the Premier League clash against Leeds United.

However, Edinson Cavani is still struggling with a groin problem and with illness and will not be available.

In terms of team selection, Varane’s availability poses a dilemma for manager Ralf Rangnick.

Varane is generally recognised to be United’s best centre back and should come back into the side. The question is probably therefore who will make way? Harry Maguire is the captain but has come under fierce criticism for his recent performances. Victor Lindelof has done little wrong.

At the pre-match press conference, Rangnick was adamant that Maguire would remain captain until the end of the season, but whether that means he will remain in the starting XI is a different matter.

Many fans would probably prefer to see a Varane/Lindelof pairing but we think Maguire will be retained again – although another bad performance will surely see the manager take action.

The rest of the defence is likely to be unchanged, with Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw at full back and David de Gea in goal.

In midfield, Matic’s availability will give the boss an option but Scott McTominay will probably get to continue in the holding midfield role. The other midfield berths will be taken up by two of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Fred.

Fred adds more industry and energy but United went up a notch when Pogba replaced him in midweek. It’s a close call but our prediction is for the Bruno – Pogba combination, which has proven almost telepathic lately, to be reinstated.

Up front, with Cavani out, Cristiano Ronaldo will almost certainly be starting in the centre forward position.

After one of the longest goal droughts of his career and the longest in 11 and a half years (587 minutes), Ronaldo netted with a superb strike on Tuesday against Brighton and the floodgates could well re-open for him now.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford will probably flank him, although Anthony Elanga and Jesse Lingard are options if Rangnick feels either should be rested.

With all that in mind, this is our predicted XI for the trip to Elland Road:

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