Needing nothing short of a miracle to remain alive in the Europa League, Real Betis welcome Manchester United to the Benito Villamarin Stadium for Thursday’s last-16 second leg.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were put to the sword 4-1 by the Red Devils in last week’s first leg – the perfect response to their Liverpool embarrassment for Erik ten Hag’s XI.
Going through a world of emotions within the space of a week, Man United fans have experienced the true meaning of a tumultuous period, which continued with a high-octane goalless draw against Southampton in which goalkeepers and the woodwork stole the show.
Casemiro cut an inconsolable figure as he was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Carlos Alcaraz in the first half, and no fewer than 28 shots were fired across the 90 minutes at Old Trafford, but the net would not ripple once as the two sides played out a gripping stalemate.
Any fleeting hopes of Ten Hag’s side knocking on the door of the top two in the Premier League table can surely be considered long gone, but further knockout success is still very much on the cards, and Man United have never been eliminated from the last 16 of the Europa League when winning the first leg.
Winning just two of their last six away games does not bode all that well for Ten Hag’s team, but Man United have gone unbeaten in their last four trips to Spain and simply need to avoid a calamitous collapse to put their name in the pot for the quarter-finals.
Casemiro’s four-game domestic ban will not impact his participation this week, but Ten Hag must still factor in a plethora of injury concerns, with Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen already known to be missing out.
Alejandro Garnacho also left Old Trafford on crutches at the weekend, and there are fears that the teenager’s ankle problem is worse than first feared, while Victor Lindelof (illness) and Marcel Sabitzer (knock) will both need assessing too.
On a brighter note, Anthony Martial is building up his fitness in team training and could be considered for some minutes in Spain, but Ten Hag is still being cautious with the Frenchman and will surely only name him on the bench at best.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Rashford
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