|Image source: The Evening Standard|
Manchester United are just ninety minutes away from securing a spot in the final of the UEFA Europa League as they take on Spanish side Sevilla tomorrow night in the last four tie. We had booked our semi final place after securing a 1-0 victory in extra time against FC Copenhagen last Monday. United had to work hard for this victory as we found it tough to break down the resilient Danish side with Copenhagen’s goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson producing a string of saves to keep us at bay but thanks to a Bruno Fernandes’s penalty we made it through.
The Reds will be playing in the same stadium in Cologne, so we will have some familiarity with the ground. Just like the quarter final, this last four tie will be contested over one leg due to restructured format of the competition since the lockdown. United last reached the semi final stages of the competition back in 2017 as we overcame another Spanish side Celta Vigo to secure a 2-1 aggregate win and then go on to win the tournament by defeating Ajax in the final 2-0.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be wanting to go into the next season campaign with a trophy under his belt and to show that United are moving forwards.
Sevilla reached the semi finals by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 through a Lucas Ocampos goal in the 88th minute. They have done well in this competition previously securing the trophy five times including three times in the last seven seasons. Like United, Sevilla have also secured Champions League qualification through their league position. Both sides come into the game with good form with United unbeaten in the last 24 and Sevilla in the last 19 games.
Teams: Manchester United vs Sevilla
Date: August 16th 2020 (Sunday)
KO Time: 20:00 BST
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Stadium: Stadion Köln
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Julen Lopetegui
There were six changes to the side against Copenhagen last Monday and it is likely Ole will rotate the squad again for the semi final tie. Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof who did not start the game last Monday will probably return to the starting eleven against Sevilla. After the victory against Copenhagen, Ole said: “Nemanja has always had this calm and influence on the team, and he came on and did really well.”
Ole said in his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game, “It’s time to step up and you need to have 100% focus. Any moment can win or lose you the game and we’ve learnt that it’s very painful when you lose a semi-final”. Ole also had this to say about playing Sevilla, “We have to be clever and creative. They’re well organised, aggressive and press with very good individuals.”
It is expected that Sergio Romero will remain in goal and will want to reach another final as he did in 2017 as Ole said of him, “He is in a goalkeeper department with one of the best from the last 10 years. It says a lot for Sergio that he always plays well. He’s motivated and concentrated”.
There is a concern over Marcus Rashford as he appeared to come off nursing an injury after being substituted during last Monday’s game. Hopefully, it is nothing too serious and will be fit to lead the line with our other two forwards Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.
Bruno Fernandes who joined Ole in the press conference was asked about how quickly he adapted to English Football, said, “I can’t say it was easy but, of course, we have had good results. I was scoring some goals, but it was easy because the team helped me a lot, everyone in the club helped me a lot, the staff, the coach, everyone gives me a lot of confidence, so it was much easier for me“.
He was also asked about being compared to former United legend Eric Cantona and admitted he was flattered by the comparisons. “It’s really good to listen talking about them names. But really, for me, Cantona was an amazing player for the club. I need to do much, much, much better to be compared with him. I’m really happy for what I did; I’m not satisfied. Like the coach said, for me, to come to Manchester is about winning trophies, I come to the club to win some trophies and I will be happy this season if we win the Europa League.“
With regards to Sevilla, they are likely to stay with the same starting eleven that defeated Wolves in the quarter finals. Julen Lopetegui said ahead of tomorrow’s game: “[United haven’t] lost a Premier League game since January, so they’re obviously a top team with great strength, but these are the semi-finals of the Europa League, and the only thing that will help us through any difficulty or situation that we come across at this high level is ambition, excitement and the desire to compete, with the aim of overcoming a great opponent. We’re all delighted with the team’s work, discipline, responsibility and ambition throughout the year. That’s how we want to be.“
Manchester United’s Europa League form: DWWWW
Sevilla Europa League form: LDDWW
A win would see Ole Gunnar Solskjær become the third fastest United manager to reach 50 wins after former managers Jose Mourinho and Ernest Magnall.
United have won each of our four previous semi finals in European competitions, going back to 2007/08.
Bruno Fernandes is the UEFA Europa League top goalscorer this season with two for United and five goals with previous club Sporting Lisbon.
United are undefeated in their last 6 matches in the UEFA Europa League.
Manchester United have not beaten Spanish opposition in their last eight competitive meetings (L6 D2). However their last win did come in the semi-final of the Europa League against Celta Vigo in 2017 and United lifted the trophy after beating Ajax 2-0.
Predicted Lineup: Romero, Williams, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford and Martial
Both sides have equally talented players that can cause problems for each other with the Spanish side having the threat of Lucas Ocampos who has scored seventeen goals this season and with Ever Banega provided three assists in five Europa League matches.
We have attacking stars in the form of Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford and Martial who will be looking to exploit the Sevilla defence to create chances and score goals. United and Sevilla are in incredible form at the moment and this match will go down to fine margins.
United need to be on the front foot right from the start, dominate possession, create chances for our front three. It will be a tough game for us but I believe we have the quality and capability to reach the final. United had already reached two semi finals this season in both the League Cup and FA Cup and so we will want to go one step further and secure this trophy for a second time. By winning the tournament, it will give the players confidence to go on and achieve greater things but also for the fans as well as we look to see United winning trophies again.