Tuesday, March 13 – 7:45p.m Local time – Old Trafford, Manchester, United Kingdom
The floodlights at Old Trafford will provide the perfect backdrop as Manchester United face Sevilla for a place in the last eight of the Champions League.
Both sides will be looking to join Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester City, which have all made it into the competition’s quarter-finals.
Liverpool’s goalless draw with Porto was more than enough to see it through, as was Manchester City’s 2-1 loss to Basel, given that both English teams had registered emphatic away wins during the first leg, leaving their European counterparts with little fighting chance.
Paris Saint-Germain’s faltered against Real Madrid in the absence of Neymar, but it was Juventus that was the shock of last week’s round of 16 matches. Despite grabbing the lead in front of a packed Wembley crowd, Tottenham Hotspur were condemned to defeat courtesy of two precious away goals by Gonzalo Huguain and Paulo Dybala; goals which unequivocally had the Old Lady of Turin advancing from the last-16.
This week comes with the promise of yet another round of mouth-watering Champions League fixtures, with the last four places in the quarter-finals up for grabs.
Manchester United began the first of three home games in seven days with a pivotal victory over Liverpool in the Premier League. The Red devils ran out 2-1 winners against their arch rivals in what was by all means a measured and pragmatic performance.
Old Trafford was the liveliest it has been all season, and rightly so given the rich, longstanding resentment between the two sides, as a comedy of errors by Liverpool’s disjointed backline proved costly against a highly clinical Jose Mourinho side.
United’s chances were few and within spitting distance, yet it was all that Marcus Rashford needed, as the 20-year old completed a brace within ten minutes to position the hosts with a 2-0 cushion going into the break.
Liverpool came roaring back after the interval with the lion’s share of the possession, but David de Gea was barely tested in a second half that saw a well drilled Manchester United side utterly and completely shut up shop.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges never really looked like they were ever going to rally a comeback, up until midway through the second half when a miscued clearance by Eric Bailly found its way past de Gea and into the back of the net.
Jose Mourinho is a great many things, but the one thing he isn’t is a manager who lets a lead slip away. It was a typical smash and grab for the Portuguese, who gave the Old Trafford faithful a preview of things to come ahead on Tuesday night’s encounter with Sevilla.
Manchester United is undoubtedly a team on the ascendancy and the mere fact that de Gea never had to claw back a single save in the second half against an attacking trio that has scored 68 goals in all competitions this season, speaks volumes of Jose Mourinho’s instrumental role at the club.
Sevilla didn’t have a pleasant build up for their trip to Manchester, as they sustained a damaging 2-0 defeat at home to Valencia. The loss, as such, has Vincenzo Montella’s side fifth on the La Liga table with 45 points, 11 points behind Valencia in fourth and well beaten in the title race with 27 points to make over leaders Barcelona.
With the likelihood of missing out on next season’s Champions League on a top four finish, Montella’s approach will unequivocally be to set up camp in United’s half in a bid to conjure up a famous upset on English soil.
The Spaniard will however be leaving his side exposed to United’s blistering counter attack, more so with Anthony Martial returning to the team. The France international took part in an open training session on Monday, having missed the last two games against Crystal Palace and Liverpool with an unspecified injury.
Paul Pogba, who missed the win over the weekend, trained away from the glaring eyes of the media, perhaps a laconic sign that the Sevilla game may be a stretch too soon for the midfielder.
Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Ander Herrera are still sidelined with various injuries, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic could feature for United for the first time since Boxing Day, having trained with the first team.
Juan Soriano has made the trip to England despite initial reports suggesting that the Sevilla shot stopper wouldn’t make the cut due to injury.
Former Manchester City defender Navas is still recovering from a calf injury but the fact that Miguel Layun, a possible replacement at right-back, was not registered for the Champions League, could prove damaging for the Andalucia side.
Lionel Carole is left out of the squad with a calf problem while Sebastien Corchia remains on the sidelines with a groin strain.
Manchester United vs. Sevilla match predictions
Jose Mourinho may have struggled to gain a foothold of the domestic League title on his second season for the first time in his trophy laden career, but the Portuguese is a specialist in knockout tournaments.
He proved this on his maiden season at Old Trafford by delivering the EFL Cup and Europa League to consolidate for his pitiful run in the Premier League.
Sevilla certainly won’t go down without a fight, but it should be a routine win for Manchester United, despite the fatigue and jaded legs that may creep in during the epic match.
- Man United to win in 90 minutes – -163.93 on William Hill
- Man United to qualify – -200 on William Hill
Manchester United vs. Sevilla recent results
Sevilla 0-0 Man United (February 21, 2018)
Man United 1-3 Sevilla (August 9, 2013)
Antonio Valencia 65′
Marko Marin 25′
Bryan Rabello 91′
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