Europa League Round of 16 – Man Utd v Liverpool


Old Trafford is the destination where Van Gaal will need to overcome a 2-0 first-leg defeat to Liverpool in order to continue their path in the Europa League.

It could be an entertaining night at the Theatre of Dreams where Man United will need to go out all guns blazing to qualify to the next stage of the competition. So far, it looks like the tie is in Liverpool’s hands as United failed to grab an away goal and how crucial will that be if Liverpool manage to score. United will need to score four goals if it does happen and what is the likelihood of United even doing this with disappointing results.

Van Gaal is once again under more pressure to deliver some silverware and playing against an old rival makes it even grander to win. The defeat was difficult to take in but there should have been more goals conceded and United are fortunate to still be within the tie. If they pull out a similar performance as they did against FC Midtjylland then the game will be good to watch. As for Klopp, he has to aim for an away goal to sit comfortably to help Liverpool continue in the Europa League. At the moment, he would be the much more relaxed out of the two managers.

Fellaini is available for United after UEFA decided they would not take action against him for his alleged elbow on Can. It seems like the game will be too soon for Valencia and Young who have returned to first team training. Schweinsteiger is likely to be rested as he eases through his comeback from injury. Lingard returns after his suspension. Liverpool will have Milner available.

United will need to make sure they supply and provide for Martial up front. The lone striker is not working when the midfielders are not delivering passes to find him. Van Gaal needs to start Memphis on the left and let him go at Clyne. There is not many options for Van Gaal to use unless he includes squad players like Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Rashford, Young and Valencia in the team. But he has to be cautious to include players who are returning for injuries. It also depends on whether the defence includes Varela or Borthwick-Jackson. Although, it is unlikely the youngsters will feature if Marcos Rojo and Darmian are available.

It will not be a night to remember if United crash out of the competition. The fans want the team to do well but not in the hands of rivals. It will be embarrassing if the result was humiliating and surely Van Gaal will be under scrutiny to leave the club. But I cannot see him leaving until the end of the season where he is adamant he can deliver some success this season. For the fans, the success will be to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season.

Possible starting XI:

Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Herrera, Lingard, Martial.

Liverpool; Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Milner, Coutinho, Sturridge.

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