Manchester United will aim to remain within touching distance of Real Sociedad in Group E when they face Omonia Nicosia on Thursday.

The second half of the UEFA Europa League group stage kicks off this week, with all teams taking the field on Thursday. Manchester United will look to remain in contention for an automatic berth in the knockout stages when they play hosts to Omonia Nicosia at Old Trafford.

Manchester United started the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League in the worst way possible, losing 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad. But back-to-back wins have helped the Red Devils climb to second in the Group E standings. Their overall form has been decent enough, as they have lost only two of their last nine games.

On the other hand, Omonia Nicosia will likely end the 2022/23 Europa League as the whipping boys in Group E. Neil Lennon’s men have lost all three games thus far, although they have given a good fight in two outings. The Cypriot outfit’s fortunes at home have not been much better either, as they have won three and lost three of their six matches thus far.

The reverse fixture saw Manchester United come back from a goal down to beat Omonia 2-1 at the GSP Stadium. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has a new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Omonia Nicosia. The Manchester United manager will be without six first-team players on Thursday.

Anthony Martial sustained a hip injury in the first half against Everton and will be unavailable on Thursday. Harry Maguire is the other major absentee for Manchester United, with the Englishman recovering from a hamstring injury. Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Donny van de Beek are the other players on the sidelines.

Raphael Varane was fit enough to make the matchday squad against Everton this past weekend. And the Frenchman should return to the starting eleven, replacing Lisandro Martinez. The Argentine international is one booking away from a one-match suspension, so ten Hag might bench him keeping the Real Sociedad game in mind.

Varane will thus pair up with Victor Lindelof at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw should start as the two full-backs, with David de Gea retaining his place between the sticks.

As for the midfield unit, Scott McTominay lost his place in the starting eleven in the Premier League to Casemiro on Sunday. But he should return against Omonia, lining up alongside Christian Eriksen in the double pivot. The offensive unit should also see a couple of changes.

Cristiano Ronaldo will spearhead the Manchester United attack against Omonia in Martial’s absence. Jadon Sancho should be the other player to return, getting another chance to impress from the left flank. But Antony and Bruno Fernandes should retain their spots, with Marcus Rashford getting some rest.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Eriksen; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo

Omonia Nicosia

Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester United dugout, Neil Lennon will not have any roster issues to contend with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. On Thursday, the Omonia Nicosia boss will have a full-strength squad at his disposal. The only concern is the suspension tightrope that Adam Lang is walking.

But Lang will retain his spot in the Omonia starting eleven, unlike Lisandro Martinez at Manchester United. The Hungarian international will join Nemanja Miletic and Hector Yuste in the central defensive unit. Behind the trio, Konstantinos Panagi will take his place between the sticks on Thursday.

Omonia will line up in a 3-4-3 formation against Manchester United, with Adam Matthews and Jan Lecjaks being the wing-backs. Charalambos Charalambous will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park, lining up alongside Mix Diskerud in the middle of the park.

Karim Ansarifard was on target last week and should spearhead the Omonia attack against Manchester United. Bruno Felipe and Loizos Loizou will complete the attacking unit, supporting the Iranian striker from the flanks.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Panagi; Miletic, Lang, Yuste; Matthews, Charalambous, Diskerud, Lecjaks; Loizou, Ansarifard, Bruno

Key Stats

  • Manchester United have lost their last two home matches in Europe, versus Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad. The Red Devils have never lost three in a row at Old Trafford in European competition, with Thursday’s outing their 198th game.
  • No Cypriot side has ever won away to an English outfit in Europe (D2 L6), with these games producing a total of 27 goals for the English teams at an average of 3.4 per game. Thursday will be Omonia Nicosia’s third such game, losing the previous two against Arsenal (1994/95) and Manchester City (2008/09).
  • Omonia Nicosia are winless in 17 away games in major European competitions (D3 L14) and have won just two of 36 in total on their travels at this level, beating Rabat Ajax in 1985 and Shamrock Rovers in 1987.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo attempted eight shots in the reverse fixture but failed to score, his most efforts without scoring in a European encounter since November 2019 for Juventus versus Lokomotiv Moscow (also 8).
  • Since making his European debut for Manchester United in February 2016, Marcus Rashford has scored seven goals as a substitute for the club in major European competitions, five more than any teammate.

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has endured a tumultuous 2022/23 season thus far. But he showed positive signs against Everton this past weekend, producing an impressive display. The performance also included his 700th club goal, with the Portuguese international being a shining light for Manchester United.

The veteran striker will now hope to go on a run of consistent performances, starting with the game against Omonia Nicosia. Erik ten Hag has insisted that he wants to get the best out of Ronaldo. And with Anthony Martial on the sidelines with a hip injury, Ronaldo has the chance to embark on a memorable run.


Manchester United 3-1 Omonia Nicosia

Omonia Nicosia showed last week that Manchester United should not take them lightly. And the Cypriot outfit will take the game to the Red Devils again on Thursday, even troubling the backline at times. However, Manchester United showed positive signs against Everton and should carry that momentum.

Cristiano Ronaldo will look to create momentum after an impressive showing against Everton. And the Portuguese striker should score for the second successive game before eventually guiding Manchester United to a win. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 victory for the Red Devils.

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