Diogo Dalot and Man United youngsters can strengthen their case in trip to Valencia

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 18:10 11/12/2018
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Diogo Dalot

Manchester United have already booked their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League after they caused an upset against Juventus at Turin and managed to edge out Young Boys at Old Trafford.

United can finish as group winners in the unlikely scenario that they beat Valencia and Young Boys manage to shock Juventus and make them drop points.

Either way, Mourinho will be looking to make a case for himself in Europe, with qualification into next year’s Champions League looking increasingly unlikely thanks to their domestic troubles.

Valencia’s fate is sealed but they will be looking to end their UCL campaign on a high, and enhance their confidence heading back into La Liga duties where they are just three points above the drop zone.

We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the game.

VALENCIA SEEK REDEMPTION

Marcelino seeks redemption

Marcelino seeks redemption

La Liga’s title contenders from last season have had a nightmare start to their league campaign. Marcelino’s men have won just three games out of a possible 15, with two of them coming in the last four games.

A shadow of their former selves, Valencia have been dismal in Europe too, dropping points against Young Boys, the supposed minnows of the group.

Goncalo Guedes – Valencia’s talisman from last season – has to do better to shut down claims that he is a one-season-wonder. The Portugal winger has not scored a single goal in any competition this season and is a long way from the form that convinced Los Che to fork out 40 million to PSG for his services.

A win against United could boost the spirit of the Valencia camp and provide a morale-booster as they enter a crucial period in the league and then the Europa league.

YOUNGSTERS AT UNITED ON SONG

Marcus Rashford has been the silver lining for United

Marcus Rashford has been the silver lining for United

The 4-1 win against Fulham comes as a huge relief to the Red Devils after a desperate month in the league which saw them go through a four-game winless run.

However, if positives can be gleaned from the poor run of results, it is worth noting how the youngsters have performed in the last couple of games.

Marcus Rashford has raised his personal bar over the last month – though goals still elude him on a consistent basis – and will be looking to keep it up as the squad travels to Spain. The England international assisted twice as United came from behind to secure a point against Southampton and followed it up with a promising show against Arsenal. The youngster’s best performance arguably came against Fulham when he capped off two assists with a screamer.

Another name that has been on the lips of the United faithfuls from last week is Diogo Dalot, who will be looking to impress against Valencia in a bid to seal a spot in the starting XI. The Portuguese did well against Sead Kolasinac against Arsenal before putting on a commendable show against Fulham.

Add Anthony Martial to the list and it’s clear that the youngsters at United are currently more reliable than Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.

AN INTERESTING MIDFIELD BATTLE

Daniel Parejo will look to inspire Valencia to a win

Daniel Parejo will look to inspire Valencia to a win

Daniel Parejo’s good form in the league is probably the only silver lining on the dark cloud that has been hovering over Valencia. An in-form Parejo can form a strong partnership with Geoffrey Kondogbia and Carlos Soler in midfield. The midfield has had problems in recent times, but in Fred, Marouane Fellaini and Pogba they are up against one of the most under-performing midfields in the Premier League.

The contrasting styles between the two sets of players makes the midfield battle an intriguing one. Valencia prefer building up patiently, stalling the ball in the neutral third and choosing their moments to attack from the centre.

On the other hand, United often bypass their midfield and launch cross-field balls to the opposite wingers. Pogba and Fellaini are not as involved in the build-up as much as their counterparts. The pair are better accustomed to providing aerial threat, winning aerial duels in midfield and facilitating quick breaks.

It will be interesting to see how the two managers plan on setting up their midfield.

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