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Why isn’t Casemiro playing against Manchester City in the FA Cup final?

The former Real Madrid star was initially named as a substitute for Manchester United but was later replaced by Willy Kambwala.

The former Real Madrid star was initially named as a substitute for Manchester United but was later replaced on the bench by Willy Kambwala.
Molly DarlingtonREUTERS

Manchester United go into Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City as firm underdogs and their team selection for the game has raised a few eyebrows, with former Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro not selected in Erik Ten Hag’s starting lineup or on the bench.

Why was Casemiro removed from United’s list of substitutes?

The five-time Champions League winner was initially named as a substitute for the game but then dropped out of the squad altogether, moments after Ten Hag had given a pre-match interview to the BBC.

It was leaked during the week that Ten Hag had tried out his potential line-up for the final at Wembley in training, with Casemiro not among the eleven chosen. Speaking ahead of the game, the United coach confirmed reports the 32-year-old wasn’t 100% fit and it was then revealed he had been replaced on the bench by young defender Willy Kambwala because of a “late injury issue”.

The Brazilian has come under criticism for his performances during much of the season, especially in recent weeks, in which he has been deployed as a makeshift centre-back. United have conceded 10 goals in their last six games with Casemiro in that position, and Ten Hag will hope the returns of Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez will help shore things up in central defence.

Youngster Kobbie Mainoo and Sofyan Amrabat start in the defensive midfield positions, with the ex-Madrid man seemingly unavailable.

Why isn’t Rasmus Hojlund playing from the start against City?

Rasmus Hojlund, who cost the Red Devils a reported $91.7 million from Atalanta, has also been left out of the starting lineup for the game against City at Wembley.

The Dane joins Casemiro on the bench in what appears to be a tactical decision by Ten Hag.

United line up without a recognised striker on the field, with Bruno Fernandes likely to play as a false nine, supported by Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho and Scott McTominay, as Ten Hag looks to flood his midfield and stop City from playing.