Manchester United will host Serie A side Roma in the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening. This game is set to play a defining role in both teams’ season. This will be our fifth semi-final since the start of 2020, however we have unfortunately not progressed in the last four of those.
It is the second consecutive year that the Red Devils find them in the end stages of the competition. We have been in imperious form during the Europa League following our exit in the Champions League back December. We have fought off Spanish sides Real Sociedad and Granada 4-0 on aggregate. In between these rounds we have also saw off Italian side AC Milan in the process.
Even though we have lost four semi-finals in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s brief rein at the club, which includes the defeat last year to Sevilla, we are now very much the favourites to lift this trophy since our success back in 2017 against Ajax.
When it comes to league matters, United are still 10 points behind the leaders and our rivals Manchester City. Though any talk of title challengers has long gone. United is undefeated in the last 17 home games in the Europa League. We have won 13 of these and drawn 4 of them.
One player that has enjoyed playing in this competition is Bruno Fernandes as he has scored 17 goals and had 11 assists from 30 Europa League games for both United and his former club Sporting Lisbon.
United comes into this tie after drawing in a 0-0 stalemate against Leeds on Sunday in the Premier League as we failed to find the net. Both Paul Pogba and Edinson did not start this game but are expected to be in the starting eleven against Roma. We have also extended our unbeaten away record in the league now to 24 games.
We face Roma twice in the space of week with a fixture against Liverpool sandwiched in between as we looked to end our semi-final hoodoo and claim a place in the final.
Roma’s domestic form has taken a downturn since the return of the Europa League back in February as they arrive at Old Trafford following a 3-2 defeat to relegation strugglers Cagliari last weekend. This was preceded by a loss against Torino, another team battling relegation. Manager Paulo Fonseca knows if he is to remain with the club for next season, then his hopes rest on going all the way in the Europa League.
It has been a balancing act of achieving domestic consistency along with their European ambitions. The last couple of seasons have seen them placed seventh in the Serie A table. This season is now being judged on them reaching their first European final for 30 years.
The form of striker Edin Dzeko has taken a dip following his attempt to leave the club back in January and also testing positive for covid-19. He has not scored in his last 12 Serie A appearances, which is his longest time without a goal in 13 years.
In the pre-match build up Dzeko has stated that United are favourites to progress to the final but also believe that Roma have quality to reach the final in Gdansk themselves. Roma started the Europa League well as they topped Group A. In the knockout rounds, they have got past their opponents comfortably. It could be argued that Ajax were unlucky to be ousted by the Italian side.
Manchester United vs Roma Match Details
Teams: Manchester United vs Roma
Date: April 29th, 2020 (Thursday)
KO Time: 20:00 BST
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Stadium: Old Trafford
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Paulo Fonseca
Manchester United Team News
As for United, the only absentees at the moment are Anthony Martial and Phil Jones due to long-standing knee issues. Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are expected to return to the starting eleven having served their one match suspensions against Granada in the previous round.
Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani who were omitted from the lineup against Leeds are likely to feature from the start. This would see Daniel James and Mason Greenwood dropped down to the bench. Marcus Rashford who overcame his foot injury should lineup with Cavani in the attack.
Manchester United vs Roma Pre-Match Press Conference
During the pre-match press conference, Ole was asked his thoughts on our opponents ahead of the game. He said, “I know about the history, I know about the quality. Of course with Chris being there [on loan] last season, we followed them. Then they signed Chris so we haven’t watched them as much. But of course we have analysed them down to the ground since we drew them. We are ready for them. And my [comment] was not meant as any disrespect and I think everyone knows that. I’ve got loads of respect for them.”
Ole was also asked if there is more belief in the squad this year compared to when we lost in the Europa League semi-final last year against Sevilla. He said, “Yes, I would like to think so. The players have had another year, they’re more experienced. They’ve come through some difficult times.”
Luke Shaw who joined Ole in the press conference was asked how much of a driving force is there to win this competition. He said, “Personally, for me it’s a massive motivation. As you said then, I’ve been quite unfortunate to not be involved in semis and finals, so of course I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night to step out in one. But of course, from a team point of view, it’s very important. In the past we’ve missed out on a few finals and I think this season, the way we’ve been playing, the way the confidence is high, we’ve got real belief that we can reach it. Like I said, it’s a massive motivation for not just me but for the whole team to reach the final. It’s a game we’re looking forward to tomorrow and one we’re very ready for.”
Roma Team News
For our opponents, there is likely to be a start for former player Chris Smalling having returned to the side last weekend. He had missed the previous nine games due to a knee injury. His comeback will be welcomed by manager Paulo Fonseca as central defender Gianluca Mancini is out of the game due to suspension.
Wing-back Leonardo Spinazzola and striker Stephan El Shaarawy could be back in the starting eleven after being on bench against Cagliari following their return from injury. They will have to do without former Chelsea player, Pedro who is out with a thigh strain. Riccardo Calafiori may also miss the game due to the same injury. Another former United player Henrikh Mkhitaryan – with 11 goals and 11 assists so far this season is expected to feature.
Manchester United Europa League form: WDDWWW
Manchester United form (all competitions): WWWWWD
Roma Europa League form: WWWWWD
Roma form (all competitions): WWDLDL
- This will be the seventh meeting between Manchester United and Roma in European competition, while the Red Devils have only lost one of the previous six (W4 D1) – all of which have been in the UEFA Champions League. (source: Opta)
- Manchester United have only lost one of their last 12 games against Italian opponents in European competition. (source: Opta)
- Manchester United haven’t lost at home in a European semi-final since April 1997 (0-1 v Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League), winning four and drawing three of their last seven such games. (source: Opta)
- Manchester United have not lost a Europa League home match since their 3-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in 2012.
- Edinson Cavani has 9 goals in 12 matches against Roma. He is one of six United players to have faced Roma before (Cavani, Fernandes, Pogba, Telles, Amad and Romero).
Manchester United vs Roma Predicted Lineup
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford; and Cavani.
This has the potential to be a fascinating tie over the two legs of the semi-final. United will look to exploit Roma’s defensive vulnerabilities as the Italian side have conceded more goals than all the other teams within the top half of Serie A. The key to this will be our ability to counter-attack on the break. We will have the confidence to overcome Roma over both legs and reach the final in Gdansk on May 26th.
Manchester United 2-0 Roma