|Image from The Evening Standard|
Manchester United resume their Europa League campaign after last competing in the competition back in March winning the first leg against LASK 5-0 with goals from Igahlo, James, Mata, Greenwood and Pereria putting us into a commanding position. All these players will be looking to play some part in this game and in the rest of the tournament.
The United players returned to training after being given a week off following the conclusion of the Premier League season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had said in preparations for the game, “they need mental and physical time away from the place because the effort has been fantastic, so recharge the batteries for a few days and then go again. We’ve got LASK and a 5-0 lead, so we don’t have to go into that game chasing a two or three-goal win. We just want a good performance and hopefully that will be enough to get into the quarters”.
It is expected that changes will be made to the side as Ole looks to rotate the squad to give those fringe players more game time.
Teams: Manchester United vs LASK
Date: August 5th 2020 (Wednesday)
KO Time: 20:00 BST
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Stadium: Old Trafford
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Dominik Thalhammer
Other than Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones who remain on the sidelines through injury, Ole has a near full squad to choose from with the youngsters Teden Mengi, Ethan Laird, James Garner and Tahith Chong are likely to feature. Sergio Romero is likely to deputise for David De Gea in goal.
Ole had given a hint in his pre-match press conference who would be in the starting eleven, “Jesse Lingard will be starting tomorrow, but the team won’t be too different to the last time we played LASK away in March.”
Several of the academy players have been added to the first team squad with Ole strongly indicating there could be opportunities for them in this competition with him saying, “the youngsters coming in to the squad give us a bigger training group and hopefully we can see the start of a career there.”
Though Ole said the side will be changed for tomorrow night’s game, he intends to use his strongest line ups for the rest of the knockout stages.
In regards to LASK, it has been quite a few months for the Austrian team as they had entered the coronavirus lockdown at the top of their league. However, there were docked points in the league when the team took part in a non-section full-squad practice. Once the Austrian Bundesliga resumed, LASK have been in poor form and this resulted in head coach Valerien Ismael being sacked. When they arrive at Old Trafford on Wednesday, LASK will be there with their new manager Dominik Thalhammer, which will be his first competitive game in charge.
LASK’s central defender Petar Filipovic and Philipp Wiesinger who missed the first leg back in March through suspension are likely to back in the side on Wednesday
Manchester United’s Europa League form: LWDWW
LASK’s Europa League form: WWDWL
United are only one of two former winners of Europa League left in the round 16, with three times winners Sevilla still in the competition.
Bruno Fernandes is the joint leading scorer in the Europa League this season with six goals, with five goals for previous club Sporting Lisbon and one goal for United in the 5-0 win over Club Brugge. Back on Match Day 2 in the competition Fernandes also got the winning goal for Sporting when they beat LASK 2-1.
United are unbeaten in 19 of the last 20 matches in the Europa League
United have kept a clean sheet in 8 of their last 10 Europa League games
Predicted Lineup: Romero, Dalot, Maguire, Bailly, Williams, McTominay, Fred, Mata, Lingard, James, Ighalo
With a 5-0 lead from the first leg, United can go into this match with freedom knowing the tie is all but over. Those players who had not played much during the remainder of the Premier League season will want to use this opportunity to impress Solskjaer and stake their claim to remain in the side when progressing to through the tournament. I do not see LASK presenting much of a threat to us as I believe we will take control of the game early on.
With Champions League qualification secured through our third place finish in the league, it would be a great way to complete this season by winning this trophy, which would be the first under Ole.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 LASK