Manchester United have a chance to give Facundo Pellistri what he wants

March 16, 2023

Man United face Real Betis in their Europa League round-of-16 second leg tonight with a 4-1 aggregate lead and here are four things to look out for.

After tonight’s match, the next date Casemiro could play for Manchester United is on April 13. Should United somehow fail to progress against Betis, Casemiro would not play again until the weekend of April 15.

Ten Hag has not started Fred and Scott McTominay together since the opening weekend defeat to Brighton and Marcel Sabitzer’s playing time was reduced after Casemiro served his first three-match suspension.

Sabitzer and Fred appears to be Ten Hag’s preferred partnership in the absence of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, also missed in the goalless draw with Southampton.

Winging it?

United’s balance with 10 men on Sunday improved when Facundo Pellistri and Alejandro Garnacho were introduced for Antony and Jadon Sancho. Sancho, who started as the No.10, repeatedly drifted to the right-hand side, causing congestion. With Pellistri and Garnacho in their best roles and Marcus Rashford the recognisable striker, the confusion over United’s set-up ended.

Garnacho will not play again until April, at the earliest, and he has been United’s outstanding game-changer off the bench. Pellistri has also made notable contributions in his six cameos and his inclusion at the weekend effectively confirmed he is ahead of Anthony Elanga in the attacking pecking order.

Pellistri is overdue a full debut and United’s three-goal cushion makes this an ideal opportunity to grant the 21-year-old a first start in a country he resided in during two separate loan spells with Alaves. The suspicion is Ten Hag will retain Jadon Sancho, especially as Antony is absent.

Meaningful minutes would represent another progressive step for Pellistri as United plan to send out on loan again next season.

It is difficult to recall a United player starting 16 successive games whilst performing so inadequately. Wout Weghorst’s run in the side is not too dissimilar to Andreas Pereira’s undroppable run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer three seasons ago and Pereira was also a stop-gap.

With Anthony Martial due to be absent for the 31st match in United’s 45th fixture of the season, Weghorst is almost certain to start for the 17th match running.