Ten Hag: Why van de Beek starts v Real Sociedad

Thursday 03 November 2022 16:30

Erik ten Hag has opted to make three changes to his starting XI, ahead of Manchester United's Group E showdown with Real Sociedad in the Europa League.

Following our 1-0 home success against West Ham United just four days ago, our Dutch boss has opted to bring in Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek and Alejandro Garnacho into the team, as the trio replace Harry Maguire, Anthony Elanga and Marcus Rashford.

Dutch midfielder Van de Beek has recently struggled with injuries, but comes into the side to mark his first start since our 1-1 draw with Young Boys in the Champions League, back on 8 December 2021.

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Having already secured qualification to the next stage of the competition, the Reds need to win by at least two clear goals to top the group in San Sebastian this evening.

Doing so would mean we would avoid the tournament's new knockout round, a playoff in which we could potentially face the likes of Barcelona, Sevilla, Ajax or Juventus.

Elaborating on his decision to bring in both Van de Beek and Garnacho this evening, Ten Hag believes the pair both have a point to prove against La Real tonight.

''I think always it has to be special but for him [Donny van de Beek] it is the first time he is back since his injury. He has to work himself back and I think we need him today,'' began the boss.

''He [Alejandro Garnacho] also has to show that he is reliable to deserve that start and he has to get in good defensive positions. Good pressing, running in behind and he has to show that to me.''

With Van de Beek hoping to impress on his first start in 11 months, many supporters had wondered which position the 25-year-old will occupy this evening.

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With injuries to Antony and Anthony Martial limiting his offensive options, the former Ajax boss is backing Van de Beek to succeed in an attacking role at the Reale Arena.

"He's back, and we also have some problems in the front line. So this is his moment,'' Erik added.

''He has to take this moment. I know he can do it. From the no.10 position he can be dangerous, playing between the lines, getting behind, and a good counter-press, so I want to see that."

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Marcus Rashford's omission from the starting XI also raised some eyebrows when the team was announced, but Ten Hag stressed the importance of monitoring our no.10's workload over the coming weeks.

"We have to cover more games,'' Erik added. ''Rashford also had a muscle injury a couple of weeks ago and a number of games are coming, and we need him. He's so important for us. He's confident, he's running behind, and he's playing a magnificent season until now. We have to keep him in this form, and fresh."

Victor Lindelof returns to partner Lisandro Martinez at the heart of our defence, with the Swede having missed out most recently due to illness.

"He did really well, Harry [Maguire] as well,'' said Ten Hag on the defensive duo. ''But Victor did some games, and then he was ill on Sunday, but it was a really good combination with Lisandro Martinez. One game he dropped out by illness, but now he's back."

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United: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw, Casemiro, Eriksen, Casemiro, Fernandes (c), van de Beek, Garnacho, Ronaldo.

Substitutes: Dubravka, Vitek, Malacia, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Iqbal, McTominay, Pellistri, Elanga, Rashford, Shoretire.

Real Sociedad: Remiro; Gorosabel, Le Normand, Pacheco, Rico; Merin, Zubimendi, Merino (c), Mendez; Sorloth, Fernandez. 

Substitutes: Zubiaurre (GK), Marrero (GK), Sola, Illarramendi, Zubeldia, Elustondo, Guevara, Navarro, Turrientes, Gonzalez, Karrikaburu, Magunazelaia.