After Manchester United’s Premier League match against Liverpool was postponed on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men turn their focus to the second leg of their Europa League semi-final tie against Roma.
The Red Devils are comfortably ahead in the matchup, winning the first leg at Old Trafford 6-2, scoring five goals in the second interval. It will take a miracle for Roma to get back into the game and that is why we could see some United players rested for this encounter.
The protests on Sunday showed the togetherness of the United following, and their hatred against the Glazer family – you can read more o However, the focus must now shift onto the footballing side of things as the club can reach their first final since they were defeated at Wembley by Chelsea in 2018.
The match will be shown live on BT Sport in the UK and will commence at 20:00 BST.
The two sides come into the return fixture in complete differing situations. While United sit second in the league with one loss in their last 22 games, Roma are down in seventh in Serie A and have not won a game since the 11th of April.
That has led to the announcement that Paulo Fonseca will leave the club at the end of the current season, but the Portuguese manager will hold his position until then.
Since returning from the international break, United have almost had a perfect record, winning six games since then but drawing once against Leeds United.
Last week showed that United’s quality in attack was too much to deal with for the Italian side, as well as the lightening fast counter-attacks that Solskjaer’s side have been so good from this season, it will likely be another difficult night for Roma’s defenders.
With the postponement of their fixture against Liverpool on Sunday, United players received a week long rest in between matches — which has been a rarity this season.
This means that the visitors go to Italy with almost everyone available. It is just Anthony Martial and Daniel James who remain unavailable, however, the former has made strides towards returning to action for the Reds and has returned to individual training.
Anthony Elanga has also travelled with the squad after impressing with the Under-23’s on Monday night, scoring twice against Derby County Under-23’s.
With a four goal lead, it could be possible that the likes of Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are afforded some well earned rest, but as previously shown in the second leg against Granada in the quarter-finals, the United manager is taking no caution this time around in the Europa League – however, with a tight schedule in the coming week, it will be a surprise if rotation isn’t made.
Such as their form on the pitch, Roma have not had luck on their side off of the pitch either, in fact, they were forced upon three changes within 37 minutes at Old Trafford last week with Jordan Veretout, Leonardo Spinazzola and goalkeeper Pau Lopez all leaving the field in the first-half.
They were all unavailable during Roma’s 2-0 loss to Sampdoria on the weekend, Amadou Diawara and Carles Perez also missed out on that affair. However, Gianluca Mancini returns to the squad after serving a suspension.
Ones to watch
Even though the game was not played, the team sheet was displayed for the United vs Liverpool game and it was a surprise to many that Edinson Cavani was not one of the names in the starting XI after his stellar performance last Thursday.
It is likely that Solskjær was saving the legs of his 34-year-old striker, with the intent to start him in Europe again.
With two goals and two assists last time out, Cavani will be looking to inflict further pain on the Roma defence and it looks like he will be doing the same to teams next season for the Reds, with strong rumours that the Uruguayan will be renewing his contract at Old Trafford soon.
Paul Pogba was also instrumental in the victory last week, and is in fine form too, with five goal contributions (1G, 4A) in his last seven appearances for the side. The Frenchman has been enjoying his football, playing more so off the left side which has allowed him to express himself going forward more often.
He leapt well to score a wonderful header against Roma last week, but was also creating many chances through his ball carrying and passing abilities, such as the opening goal.
Meanwhile for Roma, they do have multiple danger men who can cause United problems in defence. Lorenzo Pellegrini looked lively last time out and has three goals in his last four Europa League starts.
Former Red, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, was involved in Roma’s second goal last week, with a cute reverse pass in behind the United back line. With 11 goals and 11 assists this season, he has been one of Roma’s more important players and will likely be vital for them if they are going to give United a real challenge on Thursday.
Solskjaer’s first final?
After four semi-final appearances, it is all but confirmed that Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s United are going into their first final under his management.
There have been strides made in the team, which have been apparent in the league performance of the side, but Manchester United’s bread and butter is winning trophies and that is why the Europa League campaign is pivotal for Ole and his team.
A second placed finish and winning a trophy? Anyone would’ve bitten your hand off for that at the beginning of the season and as long as everything goes to plan in Rome, the Reds will be one step closer.