Manchester United vs Newcastle United: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle looks at three key players to watch out for in the Carabao Cup final between Manchester United and Newcastle United.

The first major trophy of the season will be up for grabs in England when Manchester United and Newcastle United meet in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday. And both teams will be out to end their respective trophy droughts this weekend.

Manchester United’s resurgence under Erik ten Hag has been a sight to behold. The Red Devils have not blown their opponents out of the park but by playing efficient football. And they have shown their resilience time and again, with the latest example coming against Barcelona in the UEFA Europa League.

On the other hand, Eddie Howe has steered Newcastle United to the upper echelons of English football. The Magpies were languishing in the relegation zone in the Premier League when Howe took charge. And after making a few effective signings, they have risen in stature through a solid work ethic and excellent coaching.

With both teams moving in the right direction to establish themselves as English powerhouses, the Carabao Cup final is setting up nicely. Suffice it to say there will be several pivotal figures in the clash who can tip the scales on their own. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three such players ahead of the big finale at Wembley.


The midfield battle will go a long way in determining the winner on Sunday. Both teams thrive when they contain the opposition by nipping the attacks in the bud. So our list starts with a player who has helped transform Manchester United. We are, of course, talking about Casemiro.

The Brazilian international has been excellent throughout the season, fortifying the Manchester United midfield with his presence. With that, he has proven many naysayers wrong. In addition, Casemiro’s unmistakable winning mentality has also helped the dressing room.

The 30-year-old will sit at the base of the Manchester United midfield unit against Newcastle. And while Casemiro will primarily concentrate on restricting the movement through the middle, he will also be crucial in opening up play when the Red Devils charge forward.

The former Real Madrid midfielder’s long passes will accurately release runners like Antony, Marcus Rashford, and Alejandro Garnacho. At the same time, Casemiro will have one eye on Bruno Guimaraes and his output in the middle. Suffice it to say the experienced midfielder will be a game-changer even if he does not find the back of the net on Sunday.

Bruno Guimaraes

The other facet of the midfield battle on Sunday will feature another Brazilian midfielder. Like Casemiro at Manchester United, he has galvanised Newcastle United since his arrival last year while capturing the attention of Real Madrid. The player in question is none other than Bruno Guimaraes.

One of the most well-rounded midfielders in the Premier League, Bruno Guimaraes can do it all. He can sit at the base of the midfield unit while also possessing the ability to carry the ball deep into the final third. At the same time, he can string passes — long and short — effortlessly.

The Brazilian international also has accurate shots in him, meaning David de Gea will need to be alert at all times. But most importantly, how he fares against compatriot Casemiro will determine which way the scales tip on Sunday.

Eddie Howe will be delighted to have the 25-year-old at his disposal following the end of the three-match ban. And it goes without saying that Bruno Guimaraes will be the most crucial player for Newcastle United amid the presence of other stalwarts like Kieran Trippier and Allan Saint-Maximin.

Bruno Fernandes

From Bruno Guimaraes to his namesake, we end our list with the player who will undoubtedly create the most chances on Sunday. We are, of course, talking about Manchester United’s midfield metronome and the man who will don the armband for them, Bruno Fernandes.

The Portuguese international went through a lull by his enormous standards in the last 18 months. But the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo has brought the best out of him, whether he admits to it or not. That is because he is no longer searching for his compatriot when he looks for openings on the pitch.

The 28-year-old will still look for his trademark Hollywood passes whether they stick or not. But staying true to his nature will be the only way Bruno Fernandes can find a way past a stubborn Newcastle United defence. In addition, his clever body positioning will help Manchester United win free-kicks in dangerous areas.

Bruno Fernandes will also put in the hard yards off the ball and look to neutralise Bruno Guimaraes. All in all, the Manchester United skipper will be one of the go-to players for Erik ten Hag. And his importance will skyrocket if Marcus Rashford is not fit enough to start on Sunday.

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