A first-ever competitive fixture for Man United in Real Betis’ Benito Villamarin stadium on Thursday evening, and Erik ten Hag has chosen to recall Harry Maguire to the starting line-up, and also give a first start to Facundo Pellestri.
The Dutchman has the cushion of a 4-1 first leg victory and an winnable FA Cup quarter final at home against Fulham on Sunday, meaning rotation was always likely in this one.
A 7-0 drubbing at Liverpool and a slightly below par game against Southampton notwithstanding, ten Hag should be delighted with the form that his players have shown during his first campaign as manager.
In mid-March, they are, at the time of writing, still in Europe, a couple of wins away from another FA Cup final, and flying high in the Premier League.
Considering the years of poor performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, to see the Red Devils playing on the front foot and enjoying their football again will be a joy for all United supporters.
Maguire’s return has allowed ten Hag to rest Raphael Varane, with Luke Shaw also benched, allowing Tyrell Malacia to come in on the left side.
It’s difficult to imagine that the visitors could lose the game from here, however, complacency has often caught out teams when they’ve least expected it.
A professional performance is still required.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 16, 2023