Sevilla vs Manchester United: Team news, form guide, key players and the tactical battle
Manchester United play Sevilla on Wednesday, so here's a little preview of the game...
Sevilla host Manchester United in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in the Champions League. This is the first time that the two teams clash in the competition.
The Spanish side finished as runners-up in Group E, a group that consisted of Liverpool, Spartak Moscow and Maribor. They finished with 9 points, winning 2 and losing 1 game along with 3 draws. Manchester United, on the other hand, topped Group A with a total of 15 points.
With local rivals, Manchester City and Liverpool, recording one-sided scorelines and Tottenham mustering an impressive 2-2 against Juventus with two away goals last week, the pressure is on Manchester United to do well. And given Sevilla's pedigree, it's not going to be a cakewalk for the Red Devils.
Sevilla have been mostly average this season. They are currently are 5th in the La Liga, but their recent form will certainly give them some boost. Sevilla have lost only once in their last nine games. Moreover, they have lost only a single home game in the entire season, which gives an idea of the task at hand for Manchester United.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, are currently 2nd in the Premier League, but their performances in the recent games haven't been convincing. United have won three and lost two of their last five games overall.
The away form has left a lot of room for improvement as Mourinho's side have lost two of their last three away games. However, they returned to winning ways this past weekend, beating Huddersfield Town 2-0 away from home in the FA Cup.
Wissam Ben Yedder has been Sevilla's top scorer this season, with a total of 15 goals in all competitions. Luis Muriel has also scored 5 league goals. It will be interesting to see which one of these will be handed a start. But the main man for Sevilla will surely be Pablo Sarabia, who has scored 4 times in his last 5 league appearances. Sarabia will pose a real threat to Man United as he has scored 5 and assisted 5 in the league this season.
Manchester United's top scorer this season has been Romelu Lukaku, with a total of 12 Premier League goals and he'll lead United's attack against Sevilla.
Martial and Lingard have also been in fine form, as they've contributed with goals from the wide areas. Paul Pogba has shown good creativity from the midfield having mustered nine assists in the league so far. United also have Sanchez, who has been in decent form since joining the club in January.
Sevilla will have to make a decision on Joaquin Correra, who limped off against Las Palmas and will be a major doubt for Wednesday.
Nolito is another doubt for the game along with Captain Ever Banega, who has missed Sevilla's last two games. Banega's absence could prove to be a big loss in the midfield since he has 2 assists to his name along with 31 key passes with an excellent 88% passing rate this season.
Manchester United will welcome back Eric Bailly, who featured against Huddersfield for the last few minutes after returning from an injury. Valencia, Rashford and Herrera who missed Saturday's game, should also be available. Jones and Rojo are not expected to feature. The biggest question though would be on Paul Pogba, who missed the Huddersfield clash with some unknown illness.
Sevilla are known for their slick passing. They like to keep possession of the ball and can surprise the opposition with quick passes. A clear example to this was their goal against Atletico Madrid in the Copa Del Rey, which came in the opening 30 seconds. Sevilla players are also good in the air when it comes to a battle of aerial duels, thanks to a good average height of the team. Off the ball, they try to press the opposition with a high pressing. Also, their ability to make a comeback after going down is something that Mourinho would be wary of.
Given Sevilla's style of play, one can expect Mourinho to follow his usual policy of sitting back and waiting for loose balls. Besides, one thing that Jose can exploit is Sevilla's inability to deal with counter attacks many a time. And with players like Martial, Lingard and Sanchez, that is exactly what United will try to do.
All in all, it will be a good game of football contested by two teams eager to prove themselves on the big stage.