Manchester United need to accelerate what has been a sluggish start to their group campaign in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League when they face Partizan Belgrade away from home on Thursday night.
United began Group L with an unconvincing 1-0 win over FC Astana before a listless 0-0 draw at AZ Alkmaar last time out. It's hardly the ideal start for one of the heavyweights of the European game who are expected to dominate a relatively weak group.
Fortunately for United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad received a timely confidence boost by holding Premier League leaders Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Solskjaer may turn to a few more younger players, including striker Mason Greenwood, 18, and 19-year-old defender Brandon Williams for Thursday's European action.
Shuffling the deck will require a delicate balancing act against a Partizan team with four goals to their credit in the competition already. Umar Sadiq is a striker with the pace and power to threaten, while Takuma Asano can pose a threat from wide areas.
The Partizan Stadium in the Serbian capital will be full after the club played its last two home fixtures in the tournament behind closed doors, under a UEFA ban meted out following racial abuse during a qualifier against Yeni Malatyaspor.
Date: Thursday, October 24
Time: 5:55 p.m. BST/12:55 p.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sport 2
- Partizan: 23-10
- United: 7-5
- Draw: 12-5
Odds per Oddschecker.
Greenwood was on the scoresheet when United beat Astana, and the youngster has been showcasing his potential as a finisher on Solskjaer's watch:
The teenager could be in line for another start if the United manager chooses to rest Marcus Rashford, who found the net against Liverpool. This may also be the ideal moment to give Anthony Martial some minutes after he returned from injury to come off the bench late on Sunday.
United aren't short of attacking options but will need to be strong at the back against Sadiq. The Nigeria international bagged a brace to see off Astana in Kazakhstan, and his movement could stretch the visitors' back four out of shape.
There is ample supply thanks to the trickery and pace of Asano, along with the vision of creative midfielder Bibras Natcho. The skipper of the Israel national team has excellent technique in set-piece situations and can pick defence-splitting passes when given time and space.
United can deny such space by recalling experienced duo Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata to the heart of midfield. Solskjaer has the greater resources at his disposal, so he should be able to pick the right starting XI to ensure a win for United.