Manchester United vs. FC Midtjylland
UEFA Europa League: Round of 32 second leg
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Thursday; February 25, 2016
Kick off: 20:05 GMT
Referee: István Vad (HUN)
Manchester United versus FC Midtjylland on Thursday will see Louis van Gaal attempt to turnaround this tie following their dismal performance in Denmark, with the well-organised home side coming from behind to record a 2-1 victory.
United do have an away goal, which could prove decisive, but they should have more than enough – even with injuries depleting their squad – to comfortably beat a side that has played just one competitive fixture in the last two months. An early goal will be vital for the home side to ease the nerves and tension at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s Premier League record: P26– W11– D8– L7
Midtjylland’s Danish Superliga record: P17– W9– D4– L4
Manchester United’s Recent form (all competitions): W-W-D-L-L-W
Midtjylland’s Recent form (only one competitive fixture since December 10 due to Denmark’s winter break): W-D-L-L-D-W
Manchester United team news:
- United’s first choice right-back, Matteo Darmian, is the latest defender to pick up a long-term injury, teenager Donald Love is expected to replace him in the starting XI once again.
- Adnan Januzaj has recovered from a hamstring problem. However, the winger is cup-tied – while David de Gea is not fit.
- Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia have returned to training, but neither will be fit enough to feature.
- Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marouane Fellaini, Will Keane, Phil Jones and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are all injured.
- Wayne Rooney will also miss out as he continues to recover from a knee injury that has seen him miss United’s last two matches.
Midtjylland team news:
- Petter Andersson is missing on Thursday because of knee injury.
- A knee injury has also kept Johan Dahlin out since August which means goalkeeping responsibilities have fallen to former Reading stopper Mikkel Andersen.
Manchester United predicted starting line-up: Romero; McNair, Blind, Smalling, Love; Schneiderlin, Carrick; Depay, Mata, Herrera; Martial.
Midtjylland predicted starting line-up: Andersen; Bodurov, Hansen, Novak, Romer; Sparv, Hassan, Olsson, Sisto, Kadlec; Pusic.
Players to watch:
Pione Sisto – Born in Uganda but raised in Herning, the attacking midfielder is reportedly on the radar of several major European clubs. The skilful and athletic 20-year-old, who was the best performer against the Red Devils in the first leg scored eight goals for Midtjylland in 2014/15. His stats are also impressive at Europa League and has netted three times in six games.
Juan Mata – The Spanish international has been in better form since moving to the No. 10 spot and was impressive against Shrewsbury Town after a lacklustre showing in Denmark. He will be keen to build on his eight-key-passes performance in the FA Cup against higher quality opposition.
Match facts (via BBC):
- United are unbeaten in nine European home games (W7 D2) since a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the 2012-13 Champions League.
- Midtjylland have lost their last two European away games without scoring, conceding six goals in the process.
- The Danish visitors are featuring in the spring phase of a Uefa competition for the first time.
- Before last week’s first leg, United had last competed in the Europa League in 2011-12.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Midtjylland