FC Midtjylland vs Manchester United : Preview, Live Telecast, Team News, Prediction
European football is back at Manchester United. Not the competition which a club of such a stature is accustomed to, but the club – and critically, Louis van Gaal – realise that the Europa League is the only way out of what has transpired into a torrid season for the Red Devils.
Their journey in UEFA’s second-tier competition begins with a trip to Denmark, where they face FC Midtjylland in the round-of-32 at the MCH Arena.
FC Midtjylland have already ousted English opposition in this season’s Europa League – a 2-1 aggregate victory over Southampton in the playoff round which helped them enter the group stage. With a number of key first-team players absent from Louis van Gaal’s side, Midtjylland boss Jess Thorup will be looking to seize this opportunity to upset the odds yet again and take a positive result to Old Trafford next week.
But having played no competitive football for over two months, do they have the quality and the match fitness to beat a Manchester United side currently missing as many as 13 players to injury?
Kick-Off and Live Telecast
Channel: Ten Action, Ten HD
Kick-Off: Thursday, 18th February – 2330 IST
Venue: MCH Arena
Midtjylland will be missing midfielders Petter Andersson and Jakob Poulsen through injury and suspension respectively.
Manchester United have been dealt a massive blow with the news that captain Wayne Rooney will miss around six to eight weeks of action thanks to a knee injury. Matteo Darmian and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are United’s latest full-backs on the injury list due to a shoulder dislocation and an illness respectively.
Marouane Fellaini also stays back in Manchester due to a muscle injury. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Guillermo Varela, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are the other players missing from the squad. Adnan Januzaj is cup-tied having featured for Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.
Left-back Donald Love, who made his debut against Sunderland at right-back, is likely to start. Youngsters Regan Poole, Joe Riley and James Weir make the trip to Denmark and could possibly make their senior debuts.
FC Midtjylland have not played a competitive fixture since a 1-1 draw against Club Brugge in the group stages of this competition on 10 December– a result which helped them scrape through to the knockouts.
They will obviously be the fresher of the two teams, but with the competitive mindset absent from the Danish side, will they be able to come out all guns blazing against an understrength, yet determined Manchester United?
Last 5 games (All Competitions) : D-L-L-D-W (Most Recent: FC Midtjylland 1-1 Club Brugge)
Manchester United are in a rut at the moment. Their league form is once again wavering away, the injury list keeps growing and speculation about Louis van Gaal’s future as United boss just never ceases to fill the back pages. Wayne Rooney’s two-month layoff means that he is one of the thirteen players unavailable for selection for the trip to Scandinavia.
A defeat to Sunderland on Saturday sees Manchester United 6 points off Manchester City in 4th with just a dozen league games remaining. Fair to say, they see the Europa League as a more realistic path towards Champions League qualification. Can they forget the horrors of the Stadium of Light and kick off their Europa League campaign with a victory?
Last 5 games(All Competitions) : L-D-W-W-L (Most Recent: Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United)
- This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
- United’s last visit to Denmark saw them comfortably beat Aalborg BK 3-0 in the group stage of the 2008-09 season. Wayne Rooney found himself on the scoresheet in that game.
- FC Midtjylland knocked out Premier League side Southampton in the play-off qualifying round this season – a 2-1 aggregate victory which saw them enter the group stage.
- Manchester United have lost their last 3 Europa League fixtures. [Ajax(1-2), Athletic Bilbao (2-3 and 1-2)]
Daniel Royer vs Paddy McNair
With Paddy McNair set to fill in at right-back, his inexperience is set to be tested by Austrian winger Daniel Royer, who was instrumental in helping Midtjylland qualify for the knockouts. His pace down the flanks and tendency to try the odd trick or two is set to cause McNair a few problems tracking his runs and keeping up with him.
Whether the 20-year old can match the Austrian in terms of pace and marking is something we will learn over the 90 minutes on Thursday.
FC Midtjylland 1-1 Manchester United
The Danish side’s rustiness is set to cancel out the 3-time Champions League winners’ thin squad. Hence, a draw seems the most legitimate prediction for the first leg of what promises to be an interesting Europa League tie.