Manchester United vs Manchester City Carabao Cup Semi-Finals Preview

Written By Uttiyo Sarkar on January 6, 2021

After producing the most boring Manchester Derby in recent times in the Premier League a few weeks ago, both Manchester United & Manchester City have a lot to do to redeem themselves in their upcoming clash in the Carabao Cup.

While the competition (otherwise known as the Caribou Coffee Cup at High Press Soccer) really isn’t that important, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are desperate for a trophy and City have an unhealthy obsession of winning this tournament. With both sides coming into the game full of confidence, this should be a more entertaining contest than their last one as both look to put on a show worthy of being called a derby.

Manchester United Likely XI

Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Telles, Matic, Van de Beek, Bruno, James, Rashford, Greenwood

Edinson Cavani remains the only absentee for United, as he’s serving a three-game ban.

Manchester City Likely XI

Steffan, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Mendy, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden, Aguero

City have multiple players out after testing positive for coronavirus, with Kyle Walker, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Eric Garcia & Aymeric Laporte all set to miss the game.

Manchester United vs Manchester City Preview

Ever since Solskjaer took over at United, he’shelped them do pretty well in cup competitions only to get ko’ed in the semi-finals. Indeed, this ‘curse’ saw the Red Devils lose 3 semi-finals in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup & Europa League last season, denying the Red Devils a chance to win silverware.

They will be aiming to put an end to that embarrassing statistic against their arch-rivals. City were, of course, the team who knocked them out of this competition last season, but with this semi-final now being a one-legged encounter, United could have an upper hand.

Solskjaer will, of course, rotate his side to keep them fresh for the big league games ahead, but should still field a strong enough team to take the fight to Pep Guardiola’s side. Bruno Fernandes, United’s ever-present messiah, should get a start knowing his hunger to thrive in the biggest occasions.

After being completely boxed out by City’s midfielders in the league derby recently, Fernandes will hope to make a bigger impact by being more proactive in the final third & creating better chances for his teammates. United’s big summer signing Donny van de Beek should also start after barely featuring in recent games.

The Dutch midfielder’s crisp link-up play, energetic demeanour & creative sense could be key to countering City’s high-press style and unlock their rigid defence. In their last 5 games (in all competitions), the Citizens have only conceded 3 goals & looked surprisingly strong with their defending.

So the Red Devils’ front-3 have a lot of work cut out for them if they are to expose City’s vulnerabilities. With Mason Greenwood tipped to play the game as a No.9, this is his biggest chance to prove his ability against the top opponents by being more destructive with his finishing. Marcus Rashford looks to maintain his menacing form by running rings around City’s defenders, but must be more clinical with his finishing inside their area.

With their fiery-front three and creative midfielders, United need to take their chances on the counter-attack to rattle City’s shape. But it’s not only their sturdy backline that they need to worry about. Knowing how obsessed City are with winning this competition (they’ve won it consecutively for 3 seasons now), they’ll field a strong XI at Old Trafford.

That means Kevin de Bruyne will be tasked to lead from the front. The Belgian magician is in top form, creating chances left, right & centre to help spark that something special going forward. Sergio Aguero loves scoring against United and looks to put a nail in their coffin with his ruthless goalscoring instincts.

Phil Foden’s high on confidence and he’ll bring that unpredictable threat to City’s attack with his clever movement & delivery. Then there’s the trickery of Riyad Mahrez to deal with, as the Algerian winger looks to run riot at Old Trafford. To help City dominate the possession, the silky IIlkay Gundogan & bullish Fernandinho are always there, with wing-backs Joao Cancelo & Benjamin Mendy there to provide extra attacking support.

United will probably change up their backline for the game which should see young Axel Tuanzebe get a start. This is his biggest chance to prove his ability against City’s menacing attackers, as Axel aims to use his physicality & surprising pace to end their attacks. Harry Maguire will again be tasked to maintain a strong backline, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Alex Telles pull double duty in providing attacking support as well as stopping City’s flow through the wings.

The Red Devils haven’t been the best at home this season but after winning their last 2 at Old Trafford in the Premier League, they’ll be bubbling with confidence. United must ensure they don’t make silly mistakes for City to pounce on, be ruthless with their counter-attacks& match their rivals’ intensity to produce a thrilling Manchester Derby the fans deserve.

Prediction

Well, this should at least be more entertaining than the Derby these two played a few weeks ago. But I think United will just edge City out this time with a 2-1 win to move into the finals.

WHERE TO BET THE CARABAO CUP IN THE US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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