Spectacular Red Devils gem could help make Hojlund unplayable
Life does not appear to be getting any easier for Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag’s side facing a stern test away to Bayern Munich this evening in what is a mouthwatering start to this season’s Champions League group stage.
The Old Trafford outfit will go into tonight’s encounter in Bavaria having slipped to three defeats from their opening five Premier League games, with it is safe to say that the club are now in something of a “full-blown crisis“, according to Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst.
What is the Man United team news for Bayern?
With the season reaching a new low following the 3-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend, Ten Hag was likely in need of some positivity heading into the trip to Germany, albeit with it having since been a story of further setbacks in recent days.
The struggling outfit are set to be without a raft of first-team assets against Thomas Tuchel’s men, with the likes of Mason Mount, Raphael Varane and Sofyan Amrabat all not included in the travelling party due to injury.
The Red Devils have also been hampered by the loss of both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire following the clash with the Seagulls, leaving Ten Hag’s options in the backline particularly stretched with Jonny Evans the only option in reserve.
There will, however, likely be another start for summer signing Rasmus Hojlund after the towering Dane was withdrawn on the hour mark on Saturday, with United needing to get their £72m addition firing if they are to have any hope of enjoying a successful season.
Will Hojlund start vs Bayern?
If not for a matter of millimetres, the 20-year-old may already have a first United goal under his belt, albeit with teammate Marcus Rashford having agonisingly run the ball out of play in the build-up to Hojlund’s disallowed strike last time out.
That pull-back from the Englishman was, in truth, one of few occasions when he looked to find his new strike partner against Roberto De Zerbi’s men, with the 25-year-old showcasing something of a selfish streak in the second half, in particular, after lashing an effort into the side-netting rather than picking out the former Atalanta man.
If the 6 foot 3 speedster is to truly become rather unplayable in attack then he will be reliant on quality service from those around him, particularly from the flanks, although with Rashford – who scored 30 goals last season – looking to fire himself, Ten Hag may need to consider pepping up the attack with another exciting asset, such as young Facundo Pellistri.
Will Pellistri play against Bayern?
With both Antony and Jadon Sancho currently sidelined, it had looked almost a certainty that the Uruguayan would start at the weekend, albeit with Ten Hag instead favouring a midfield diamond that included Scott McTominay on the right-hand side.
That decision not to unleash the 21-year-old whiz was deemed “inexplicable” by Luckhurst, with the former Penarol menace arguably the only orthodox right-wing option among the available crop of forwards.
That may suggest Ten Hag has little faith in the diminutive talent – who has made just 13 senior appearances for the club – although the “spectacular” gem, as described by compatriot Ronald Araujo, may be required to provide a much-needed spark this evening.
Such a bold inclusion could be particularly crucial for a figure like Hojlund, with Pellistri – who was praised for his “direct” nature by pundit Ally McCoist during the World Cup in Qatar – regularly looking to pick out his teammates from the right flank.
That was apparent on a rare outing last season at home to Real Betis in the Europa League, with the wideman producing a “scintillating” surge into the box, as per journalist Alex Turk, before pulling the ball across to eventually find Wout Weghorst, following McTominay’s initial deflected effort.
While just a mere flavour of his ability, that solo run and impressive end product showcased that Pellistri could well be a striker’s dream if given a consistent run in the side, with the natural right-footer likely to favour a cross or a threaded pass, over cutting onto his weaker side for a shot – as would be the case with Antony, as well as Rashford on the other side.
There may be those who would see it as too much of a gamble to thrust the 14-cap international into the fray against the Bundesliga giants, yet it could prove the key to not only unlocking United as a whole but also the hungry Hojlund.
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