FA Cup final: How can Manchester United defeat Manchester City in the pulsating final?

With a lot riding on this match, let us look at how Erik ten Hag’s side can defy the odds to upset the favourites Man City in the final.

File photo of Manchester United players; Credit: Twitter/ @EuropaLeague
By Karthik Raman | Jun 2, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Football supporters are in for a massive treat on Saturday evening when Manchester United face Manchester City in the FA Cup final. With the Premier League done and dusted, the attention now turns to the prestigious English cup competition. To make things more interesting, the final will witness the mouth-watering Manchester derby.

Fresh from winning the league title Man City will be brimming with confidence and they will be the clear favourites in this contest. However, Man United already have the experience of beating Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League this season, hence they cannot be taken lightly. With a lot riding on this match, let us look at how Erik ten Hag’s side can defy the odds to upset the favourites Man City in the final.

Manchester United need legs in midfield

It is safe to say that Erik ten Hag’s preferred midfield combination is that of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes. While Casemiro is exceptional in reading the game and intercepting passes, the 31-year-old cannot run around the pitch to win the ball back like he used to in his prime Real Madrid days. Eriksen, who is also 31 years of age, is there to progress the ball more than breaking up the play.

Fernandes is good with high pressing and closing down the play but he is not someone who will regularly drop deep to help out the defence. Hence, it is safe to say that Man United could be exposed in the central part of the pitch if they start these three players in the middle of the park. The safest bet is to replace Eriksen with Fred. That way, United will have the Brazilian duo at the heart of the midfield, providing better cover for their defence. Fred’s tireless work rate is needed to counter Manchester City’s potential dominance of the ball in the middle third of the pitch.

Bruno Fernandes on right wing; extra midfielder

The Portuguese playmaker has the experience of playing in an inverted right midfield position many times this season. It is something he has also done for his national team at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Hence, Bruno Fernandes could be moved to the right flank, thereby allowing Erik ten Hag to field an extra midfielder in the Starting XI. This tweak could allow the Red Devils to play with four midfielders against a side that loves to dominate ball possession.

Important to tightly mark Kevin De Bruyne

It goes without saying that Kevin De Bruyne is one of the top most creative midfielders in the Premier League right now. His vision to pick a pass or to evade a challenge has always been one of his biggest strengths. He has often been the creative outlet for Man City. Hence, if De Bruyne’s involvement his reduced then chances for the front players, most notably, Erling Haaland will be cut down. When Man United beat City earlier this season, Fred did an incredible job to keep the Belgian midfielder quiet for most parts of the game, which laid the platform for the Red Devils to win the game. Fred might very well be tasked with a similar role on Saturday to keep the Belgian quiet.

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