Manchester United will look to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals when they take on Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Thursday.
The curtains will fall on the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday after the four second-leg fixtures. The marquee match-up will see Sevilla welcoming Manchester United to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, with the tie level after the first leg.
Sevilla dropped to the UEFA Europa League after failing to finish among the top two in Group G of the UEFA Champions League. They then narrowly beat PSV Eindhoven and Fenerbahce to reach the quarter-finals. The Andalusian giants are THE Europa League team and will fancy their chances. But their recent form has been sketchy as they have won only two of their last games.
On the other hand, Manchester United had to take the scenic route to the knockout stages after finishing second behind Real Sociedad in Group E. They then beat Barcelona in the playoffs stage before easing past Real Betis in the Round of 16. And the Red Devils have gradually improved this month, completing three Premier League wins in a row this past weekend by beating Nottingham Forest.
The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw after Manchester United took a two-goal lead by the 21st minute. But two late own goals were the Red Devils’ undoing, with Sevilla setting up a must-win second leg. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
𝔽𝕠𝕔𝕦𝕤. #UEL pic.twitter.com/8VbduNkTC9
— Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) April 19, 2023
Jose Luis Mendilibar does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Manchester United on Thursday, the Sevilla manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.
Gonzalo Montiel will serve a suspension after picking up a yellow card in the first leg. Meanwhile, Pape Gueye is ineligible to represent Los Nervionenses in the Europa League this season. Otherwise, Mendilibar has a full-strength squad at his disposal this week.
Yassine Bounou has become a hot property in the market since the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And Sevilla will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. The backline will likely feature Jesus Navas, Tanguy Nianzou, Marcao, and Marcos Acuna. The two full-backs will regularly look to charge forward and overload the flanks.
With the full-backs having the freedom to express themselves, the two central midfielders will shore up the defensive side of things. So Fernando and Nemanja Gudelj will pair up in the double pivot, hoping to keep things tight in the middle of the park.
With Fernando and Gudelj forming the double pivot, veteran playmaker Ivan Rakitic will be more advanced. The Croat will pull the strings high up the pitch while bringing the wide attackers — Lucas Ocampos and Oliver Torres — into the fray. Finally, Youssef En-Nesyri will spearhead the Sevilla attack against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bounou; Navas, Nianzou, Marcao, Acuna; Fernando, Gudelj; Ocampos, Rakitic, Oliver Torres; En-Nesyri
Unlike his counterpart in the Sevilla dugout, Erik ten Hag has a gamut of issues to deal with ahead of the trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. The Manchester United manager will be without more than half a dozen players on Thursday.
Bruno Fernandes, Lisandro Martinez, and Raphael Varane are the most notable absentees for the visitors. While Fernandes will serve a suspension after going into the book in a bizarre decision, Lisandro Martinez is done for the season after undergoing surgery for a foot injury. Meanwhile, Varane is recovering from an ankle issue.
In addition, Phil Jones, who will likely leave Manchester United as a free agent this summer, is also on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Tom Heaton (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), and Alejandro Garnacho (ankle) remain on the sidelines. And Scott McTominay has seemingly not recovered from a knock yet.
❌ Scott McTominay
❌ Raphaël Varane
Manchester United are still missing some key players in training today pic.twitter.com/AmU4lAk4Af
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 19, 2023
But there is some good news, as Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Marcel Sabitzer, and Marcus Rashford have resumed training. The quartet should be in the Manchester United travelling squad, with three of them likely to feature on Thursday. Speaking of the starting eleven, the visitors will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with David de Gea in the goal.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will form the central defensive partnership again. And Erik ten Hag will hope the duo shed the nerves and step up in one of the most crucial games of the season. Meanwhile, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Shaw should be the two full-backs.
Casemiro and Christian Eriksen will form the double pivot again, with Sabitzer reprising the no. 10 role. The Austrian midfielder will carry a goal threat like last week from the position. Finally, Antony, Rashford, and Anthony Martial should form the offensive unit for Manchester United against Sevilla.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Sabitzer, Rashford; Martial
- Sevilla have never lost against Manchester United in major European competition in four previous meetings (W2 D2). Their only previous home game against the Red Devils ended 0-0 in February 2018.
- Manchester United have faced Sevilla four times without winning in major European competition (D2 L2), their joint most against an opponent without winning in their European history (also four games versus Atletico Madrid).
- Sevilla have won 23 of their last 26 home matches in the UEFA Europa League (D2 L1). Jose Luis Mendilibar is the seventh manager to manage Sevilla in the competition. Five of the previous six have won their first home game in the competition, with Antonio Alvarez the other, losing to PSG in September 2010.
- Manchester United have lost just one of their last 12 away UEFA Europa League knockout matches (W7 D4), a 3-2 defeat at AS Roma in May 2021.
- Anthony Martial was on loan at Sevilla last season. The Frenchman scored just one goal in seven appearances at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, although that goal did come in the Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb.
Player to Watch
While Erik ten Hag will wait with bated breath for the return of some pivotal players, a midfielder will hold the key on Thursday. We are talking about a veteran who recently recovered from a long-term injury. And after his performance on Sunday, Christian Eriksen will be raring to go in Seville.
The Danish playmaker has missed much of the second half of the 2022/23 season. But he has gradually regained sharpness and looked in good shape in the last few games. The veteran was particularly delightful against Nottingham Forest this past weekend. And his reunion with Casemiro in the double pivot gives Manchester United hope of keeping Sevilla at bay on Thursday.
Sevilla 1-2 Manchester United
The two teams have not been consistent in the last six weeks, setting up an intriguing battle for Thursday. But with a few top players likely returning to action, Manchester United will have a slight advantage over Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
The hosts remain the Real Madrid of UEFA Europa League. But with the team not performing at optimum levels, Manchester United will again find holes in the Andalusian club’s backline. And unlike last week, the visitors should hold their nerve and seal a narrow win. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Erik ten Hag’s charges, who will seal a berth in the semi-finals.
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