Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane would have expected to start both legs of Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final match against Sevilla. However, neither of the defenders will take part in the second match.
Erik ten Hag’s first-choice center-back duo were both injured in last week’s 1-1 draw with Sevilla. Varane, whose injury was not disclosed, was taken off at halftime of the match at Old Trafford, while Martinez was carried off at the end with a fractured metatarsal.
The World Cup winner was ruled out for the rest of the season, which was a big setback for the Reds, especially given his successful debut season at United. His spouse, on the other hand, will be absent for “a few weeks.” It is uncertain how long the key Frenchman will be out, but he will not be available for the second leg against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
Ten Hag’s choices are restricted with Varane and Martinez sidelined. This season, the Dutchman has shifted left-back Luke Shaw to center-back on occasion, while Casemiro has also played in that position. Given United’s shortage of available midfielders – and with Bruno Fernandes suspended – the Brazilian ace is unlikely to drop back into defense, but Shaw might make a comeback. Injury forced him to miss England’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
As a result, it is believed that Manchester United would line up against Sevilla with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire at the back. The pair preserved a clean sheet at the City Ground at the weekend, and if the Reds are to advance to the Europa League semi-finals, they must do the same on Thursday night.
Maguire is poised to make his 15th start of the season. After scoring an own goal in the previous week’s tie, the 30-year-old will be eager to make apologies and assist United in defeating their Spanish opponents. He overcame a rocky start against Nottingham Forest at the weekend, but with the Reds’ European status on the line, the England defender will need to deliver in his most vital start of the season.
Although he has made seven Premier League starts, he has not been selected for the majority of the so-called “bigger games.” For example, he was named to the bench for Premier League matches against Liverpool (at home and away), Arsenal (away), and Newcastle (at home). He did not play in either leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final or final, and he was an unused replacement in the Europa League against Barcelona (both legs) and Real Betis (first leg).
The defender did play the full 90 minutes in United’s FA Cup quarter-final triumph over Fulham, but with United playing against nine men for the final 20 minutes or so, the Reds eventually won comfortably – despite Ten Hag’s men needing to come from behind.
When asked about his future at Old Trafford, Maguire has been evasive, although most people believe the former Leicester City man will leave in the summer. Despite his lack of continuous play this season, the club sees him as a sellable asset. This season, the centre-back has made 27 appearances in all competitions, but the upcoming match against Sevilla is the most significant for the defender.
While his future will not be decided by his performance against the La Liga team, he may demonstrate to his boss that he can be trusted during the campaign’s most crucial stage. With two of his competition out, one for the rest of the season, Maguire should get the chance he’s been craving all season.