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Football Today: Mixed fortunes for United pair, time for Alcantara to step up

Manchester United started the post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era with a 2-0 victory at Villarreal in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Chelsea demolished Juventus to move top of Group H, while Bayern Munich, Sevilla and Lille also recorded wins.

We start the latest Football Today column with a quick look at how two of United’s underperforming stars fared in Spain.

Mixed fortunes for United pair

Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek were in the starting line-up against Villarreal after failing to secure much game time under Solskjaer.

Sancho caught the eye with an excellent performance which was topped off by firing home United’s second goal late in the game.

By contrast, van de Beek struggled to have much impact after surprisingly being chosen ahead of Bruno Fernandes in the number 10 role.

He was eventually replaced by Fernandes, and his hopes of regularly forcing his way into the starting XI are looking increasingly remote.

Time for Alcantara to step up

Thiago Alcantara was heralded as a difference-maker when he joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich, but he has largely failed to live up to expectations.

The midfielder was recently linked with a return to Barcelona but dismissed those rumours ahead of this evening’s game against Porto.

While injuries and illness have not helped his cause at Anfield, Alcantara needs to start showing what all the fuss was about now he is fully fit.

The rest of Liverpool’s regular midfield is functional rather than spectacular – we’ll soon find out whether he can add something different in that department.

Wednesday football on TV

  • Spartak Moscow vs Napoli – Europa League – BT Sport
  • Besiktas vs Ajax – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Barnsley vs Swansea City – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Blackburn Rovers vs Peterborough United – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Bristol City vs Stoke City – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Cardiff City vs Hull City – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Fulham vs Derby County – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Millwall vs AFC Bournemouth – Championship – Sky Sports
  • QPR vs Huddersfield Town – Championship – Sky Sports
  • Atletico Madrid vs AC Milan – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Club Brugge vs RB Leipzig – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Liverpool vs Porto – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Sheriff Tiraspol vs Real Madrid – Champions League – BT Sport
  • Sporting Lisbon vs Borussia Dortmund – Champions League – BT Sport

One to watch

Borussia Dortmund have got themselves into a pickle in their Champions League group.

With Erling Braut Haaland and Mats Hummels sidelined, their visit to Sporting Lisbon will not be easy.

Prediction

Real Madrid, Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers look good bets to win this evening. The treble pays odds of around 10/3.

Read more: Tactical Analysis – Manchester United’s usage of a functional defensive structure against Villarreal.

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