December 3, 2022

Manchester United’s 2022-23 season couldn’t have got off to a worse start, with a 2-1 home loss to Brighton exacerbated by their 4-0 drubbing by Brentford the following week. Since then though, the Red Devils have recovered, and are now firmly amongst the runners and riders for a European place, with an outside chance of even mounting a title charge. That’s all been put on hold for the moment though, with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar now set to take centre stage,
United’s squad has been significantly reduced for the next month, in which they’ll play no competitive games, and Erik ten Hag will be using this unique mid-season break to prepare for the latter stages of 2022-23, a time of the season in which his side will be hoping to be competing at the forefront of several competitions. The World Cup break may well allow them to do this, giving the remainder of the squad who haven’t travelled to Qatar a chance to refresh, ahead of a hectic second stanza of the season in which two thirds of the Premier League, and the knockout rounds of the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League will be squeezed.
While fifth-placed United have recovered from that poor early run to establish themselves amongst the top sides in this season’s Premier League, their advancement into the respective cup tournaments has hardly got going. They have played six games in their Europa League group, finishing second behind Real Sociedad with 15 points, and that runner-up position has given them a nightmare draw in the round of 32, where they’ll face none other than Barcelona.
Before they meet the Blaugrana in February though, United will have matches in both of England’s domestic cup competitions to contend with. The FA Cup third round is yet to be drawn, but when it does, Manchester United will play their opposition in early January, as is tradition in football’s oldest competition regardless of the truncated league season. Up first though is the fourth round of the League Cup, which the Red Devils will play just three days after the World Cup final! They will face Burnley at Old Trafford on December 21, in a game they’ll be highly unlikely to have many of their World Cup absentees back in the squad.
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The Red Devils have a whopping 13 players that have made the trip to Qatar with their respective national teams, leaving a very barebones squad back at Carrington. They have the fifth most participants in the World Cup of any club, and the second-most amongst Premier League clubs, with local rivals Manchester City pipping them with 16. Their upcoming Europa League opponents Barcelona have more players in Qatar than any other side, with 17 absentees, and United will be hoping their re-integration back into the squad takes until at least late February.
Several of United’s key performers so far this season will be absent from Manchester over the next month, with almost their entire first-choice XI this season currently in Qatar. Current skipper Bruno Fernandes is in the Portugal squad, which is captained by Cristiano Ronaldo and also features Diogo Dalot. Club captain Harry Maguire, along with Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford, has been picked by England, while Brazil also have three Red Devils in their squad, having picked Casemiro, Fred and Antony. David de Gea has not been picked by Spain though, meaning United will at least have their number one present over the World Cup break.
Although Ronaldo was a United player when he left for Qatar, the club have since decided to mutually terminate his contract in light of the interview he gave to Piers Morgan.
MORE: FIFA World Cup schedule 2022: Complete match dates, times, team fixtures for Qatar tournament
Train well, travel well 👊#MUFC
United’s preparation for the 2022/23 season’s resumption will involve a break, followed by training in late November, but the intensity of their schedule will increase as December rolls around, when they head to southern Spain for a week-long training camp.
While there, the Red Devils will play two friendlies, both against Andalusia-based La Liga sides. On December 7, they will play Cadiz at the Nuevo Mirandilla stadium in a 7 p.m. GMT kick-off, while three days later on December 10, they face Real Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarín, kicking off at 5 p.m GMT.


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