Europa League Preview: Manchester United vs FC Midtjylland

After a dismal performance in Denmark that saw them slip to a shock defeat against the Danish champions, Manchester United have it all to do in the return leg at Old Trafford tonight if they are to qualify for the next round.

FC-Midtjylland-v-Manchester-United
Michael Carrick and his teammates looked dejected after losing to Midtjylland in the first leg.

A well-organized Midtjylland side did enough to get past Louis van Gaal‘s men with a 2-1 victory in the UEFA Europa League round-of-32 first leg. FC Midtjylland, a club only formed in 1999 (the same year when Manchester united won the famous treble) head into this fixture knowing that they can cause one of the biggest upsets on the night if they manage to bundle out the English giants, who are performing well beyond expectations in all competitions.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the tie:

KEY STATS

  • Midtjylland are unbeaten on both their visits to England (W1 D1), winning on their only previous visit to Manchester ( Man City 0-1 Midtjylland)
  • The Red Devils have racked up 10 goals in the three home matches played against Danish opposition in European competition, winning two and drawing the other
  • The Danish outfit are now unbeaten in three games against English sides (W2 D1), winning each of the last two fixtures
  • Manchester United last reversed a 1-2 first leg defeat in the 2007 Champions League quarter-finals against Roma, by winning the second leg 7-1 at Old Trafford
  • Midtjylland have lost their last two away clashes in Europe and have failed to score, conceding six goals

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has confirmed that goalkeeper David De Gea will miss Thursday’s Europa League tie against FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

The Spain international has missed the last two games after picking up a knee injury during the warm-up of last week’s 2-1 defeat to the Danish side in the first leg of their last-32 clash.

Marcos Rojo returns, though he is only ready for 20 minutes of substitute action. Antonio Valencia has been “training individually as part of his recovery programme but the Ecuador international is not yet available for selection.”

Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Adnan Januzaj (cup-tied) and Will Keane are also set to miss out. Chris Smalling did not train with the group on Wednesday and may also be out of contention. Van Gaal will consider drafting in 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford as a replacement for the injured Wayne Rooney.

According to the Telegraph, Midtjylland “are missing Petter Andersson so are likely to name the same starting XI as last week.”

IT’S A BIG NIGHT FOR…

sparv_tim_midtjylland-630x330
The Midtjylland captain will relish coming to Old Trafford.

Tim Sparv. The captain of the Danish outfit is a lifelong United fan and although he’ll be fully focused on victory at the Theater of Dreams tonight, a small part of him will simply “savor”the occasion and enjoy a moment many dream of.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Man Utd XI: Romero, Riley, Blind, Smalling(c), Varela; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Depay, Mata, Lingard; Martial

Midtjylland XI: Andersen, Novak, Bodurov, Hansen, Romer; Olsson, Sparv(c); Sisto, Hassan, Kadlec; Pusic

PREDICTION: Manchester United WIN

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